Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reiterated his stand not to allow face-to-face classes as much as possible as the start of the school year draws near amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Let me reiterate po: No vaccine, no face-to-face as much as possible. Importante makapag-aral pa rin ang mga bata sa paraan na hindi sila mapipilitang ma-expose sa sakit,” Go, also the chair of the Senate Committee on Health, said.
Go said that he remains firm in his earlier pronouncements that physical classes must not proceed sans the availability of a vaccine. Instead, he urged the Department of Education to pursue other modes of conducting classes that can still comply with health and safety protocols, such as social distancing.
“Ayaw kong mapunta sa bata ang burden. Ayaw ko ma-pressure ang estudyante na pumasok sa eskwela tapos may banta naman sa kanilang kalusugan. Kaya binigyan ang DepEd ng option to recommend na ipagpaliban muna ang opening upang masiguro nila na maipapagpatuloy ang edukasyon sa paraan na ligtas,” he mentioned.
He also implored schools and education officials to guide students as they adjust to new modes of learning.
“Marami pong mga estudyante ang walang laptop o internet access. Maraming estudyante na mahihirap. Paano naman po sila? Siguruhin natin na lahat ng mga estudyante natin ay mabibigyan ng pantay na oportunidad sa ilalim ng learning continuity plan,” Go said.
The Senator stressed that the difficulties of adjusting to new modes of learning compounded with the health risks of the environment that may affect the students’ mental and emotional conditions may just adversely affect their ability to learn in school.
“Basta matuto ang lahat ng estudyante pero sana walang bagsak dahil mahihirapan pa po ang estudyante na mag-adjust sa makabago at iba’t ibang paraan ng pag-aaral. Health pa rin ang important. Sa kagustuhan nating makapag-aral ang mga bata, inuuna pa rin natin palagi ang interes, kapakanan at buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he emphasized.
“Tulungan natin ang mga bata na hindi sila bumagsak at walang humadlang sa kanilang pag-aaral para makapasa sila to another year level at walang masayang na taon,” he added.
Go, then, urged authorities to take the current situation ‘one step at a time’ to protect the safety of students. “Let’s assess first what happens in the coming days. Kahit ayaw nating maantala ang klase nila, importanteng safe sila,” Go said.
The Senator echoed the sentiments of President Rodrigo Duterte that while he trusts the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and DepEd’s recommendation to allow face-to-face classes on a limited basis, this should only be done when all risks of exposure to sickness are eliminated.
“Kaya nga po sinabi ng Pangulo na ‘no vaccine no face-to-face classes’ kasi ayaw niyang mailagay sa peligro ang mga kabataan,” Go stressed.
“Aanhin po natin ang another year level, kung magkakasakit naman ang mga bata? Alam ninyo po, napakahirap po magkasakit ng COVID-19 sa panahong ito. Ni hindi ninyo po masasamahan o mabibisita ang pasyente sa ospital. Kaya huwag nating biglain. Unahin natin ang kalusugan ng bawat bata, kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino,” Go also added.
Earlier, Go commended the signing of Republic Act No. 11480, amending Section 3 of RA No. 7797, otherwise known as “An Act to Lengthen the School Calendar from Two Hundred (200) Days to Not More Than Two Hundred Twenty (220) Class Days”.
The amendment grants the President of the Philippines power to set a different date, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Education, of the opening of a school year in the event a state of emergency is declared. The deferred school opening is applied to all basic education schools, including foreign and international schools, throughout the country or parts of it.
Go has also consistently urged the DepEd to lay down an action plan to address concerns of Filipinos in preparation for the upcoming school year. The Senator also reminded concerned agencies to work together to provide for alternative, remote learning methods that can ensure education access even for students who have no internet connection.
“Meron pa rin sa ating mga estudyante ang walang access sa internet. Dapat siguraduhin na mabigyan pa rin sila ng oportunidad para maituloy ang kanilang pag-aaral,” Go said.