Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday suggested that the resumption of classes should be guided by a "risk-based" approach to consider the safety and health concerns of students, teachers, parents and other members of the school community amid the threat of COVID-19.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, made the remark as the enrollment for the next school year is supposed to begin on June 1.
In a statement, Gatchalian pointed out that in provinces where there are zero cases of COVID-19 and physical gatherings may be allowed, minimum health standards such as prohibition on mass gatherings should still be observed.
“What we want is for the government to innovate. Kailangang alalahanin natin na layon ng pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon ay ang pag-angat natin sa kinabukasan ng ating mga kabataan, lalo na para sa mga nangangailangang mag-aaral,” he said.
He pointed out that the need for the safety of students should not get in the way of their continued learning and development, even as he warned hat prolonged school closures may result in long-term adverse consequences.
He cited the findings in World Bank Report entitled "The COVID-19 Pandemic: Shocks to Education and Policy Responses" which stated that vulnerable and struggling students are more prone to losing interest in school and are eventually dropping out.
Also, the report revealed that students who drop out of school will have lower lifetime productivity and earnings.
Gatchalian emphasized that when students in public schools, especially the disadvantaged ones, have nothing to do, they will lag behind their more socially-advantaged classmates as well as learners from private schools.
But earlier, the Department of Education assured the public that despite the COVID-19 situation, measures have been put in place to ensure student learning continuity.
Once the suggested opening of classes on August 24 begins, students and teachers will not be required to come to school.
Moreover, the DepEd said that while an online mode of learning may be implemented, distance learning is also possible using traditional printed self-learning modules supplemented by TV and radio broadcasts. —Erwin Colcol/LBG, GMA News