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Solon wants class opening moved to August or later amid virus threat

ACT-CIS party-list Representative Jocelyn Tulfo is urging concerned government agencies to move the opening of classes for the next school year to either August or September to give schools time to recover from the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation.

In a statement, Tulfo recommended to the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to "synchronize the opening of the new school year either in August or September" on a trial basis.

"Huwag po nating ipilit buksan ang school year sa June. Mabuti nang nag-iingat at daig ng maagap ang masipag," she said.

"Maraming eskuwelahan ang kinailangang gamitin bilang staging area, relief goods distribution center, o temporary community quarantine facility. Marapat lamang na malinis nang maigi ang bawat sulok ng mga paaralan," she added.

According to Tulfo, the week-long Brigad Eskwela will not be enough to ensure that every school and classroom is disinfected, clean, and safe for use.

She said an entire month should be devoted for decontamination of all school and sports facilities, including dormitories, that were used for COVID-19 response measures.

At the same time, Tulfo said delaying the opening of classes would also allow the national and local governments to come up with solutions to ensure that every student will be able to attend school amid the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While all education agencies have existing electronic voucher systems, there may be a need to double or triple the funding for these considering the situation, she said.

She added that the government could also give food and transport fare vouchers for students who may need them.

"I ask the Departments of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and the education agencies to recommend to Congress a Pantawid Edukasyon conditional cash transfer program for all students in the low income and lower-middle income brackets," Tulfo said.

"It would be easy for families in financial distress because of COVID-19 to stop sending their kids to school. Government must assure them that they must keep their kids in school and government will be there to help because it is a must," she added.

As of Sunday afternoon, the country recorded a total of 3,246 COVID-19 cases; 152 deaths; and 64 recoveries. —Erwin Colcol/LBG, GMA News