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Return to ECQ seen to push back resumption of classroom learning

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Return to ECQ seen to push back resumption of classroom learning
Students wearing protective face masks have their temperatures taken while entering their college campus in Manila on January 31, 2020
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The return to Enhanced Community Quarantine shows that pandemic response has failed, a party-list lawmaker said Sunday.

The return to tighter restrictions also puts the safe reopening of schools further into uncertainty, Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers' party-list) said.

'NCR Plus' — or the capital region along with Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan — will be under the strictest quarantine status starting Monday, March 29. This comes as more Filipinos have been contracting COVID-19, with daily case increases beyond 9,000 in the past three days.

And while government said the ECQ will only be for a week, a coronavirus task force spokesperson told ONE News that the curbs could still be extended.

 Castro said teachers and students were afraid of a new lockdown that would push plans and discussions on resuming in-person learning back.

"This lockdown and the record-high number of daily new cases means dimmer prospects for back to face-to-face classes and improved blended learning," she said. 

Pilot run for in-classroom learning

There had been calls in the past months for the administration to allow at least a pilot run on physical classes in areas with low virus transmission. 

The Department of Eduction in February said it will abide by President Rodrigo Duterte's decision not to hold face-to-face classes until more people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

"In the meantime, we shall continue preparing action plans for this activity, should the president give his approval in the coming months," it said.

The department has identified 1,904 public schools that might participate in a pilot run for face-to-face classes, subject to conditions, including limiting participation to schools in areas under Modified General Community Quarantine.

Groups like Philippine Business for Education have been pushing for plans to safely resume classes in schools to arrest a "learning crisis" in the country.

Castro added that locking down millions within the NCR bubble will not do anything unless testing and tracing efforts are improved, inoculations are fast tracked and health facilities already overwhelmed are assisted.

"Many will only be burdened by this administration in its failed policies that are not helping to solve or control the spread of the COVID-19," Castro said in Filipino.

As it stands, the country's overall count of infections stood at 721,892 on March 28, as officials reported over 9,000 additional cases for the third straight day.

ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS BULACAN CAVITE DISTANCE LEARNING ENHANCED COMMUNITY QUARANTINE LAGUNA METRO MANILA NOVEL CORONAVIRUS RIZAL RODRIGO DUTERTE
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