MANILA - Senators Joel Villanueva and Nancy Binay welcomed on Wednesday the plan of education chief, Vice President Sara Duterte, to resume full face-to-face classes by November with a few reminders to assure proper health protocols are strictly implemented in schools.
Citing the National Economic and Development Authority's (NEDA) study saying that online or modular learning is only 37 percent effective compared to face-to-face learning, Villanueva said it is urgent for the country to get back the learning loss caused by the closure of schools and introduction of remote classes because of the pandemic.
"Ayon din po sa NEDA, may kabuuang PHP11 trillion po ang mawawala sa bansa sa susunod na 40 years dahil sa suspension ng face-to-face classes at lost wages mula sa mga magulang na kailangang magpaliban ng trabaho para tulungan ang kanilang mga anak sa online classes (Also according to NEDA, the country will lose a total of PHP11 trillion in the next 40 years because of the suspension of face-to-face classes and lost wages from parents who need to be absent from work to help their children in online classes)," he said in a statement.
Villanueva also urged the national government to maximize the booster vaccination of children aged 12 years to 17 years against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) before November.
"May ilang buwan pa po tayo para maihanda ang ating mga paaralan para sumunod sa minimum public health standards, gaya ng proper ventilation, at maghanda para sa contingencies base sa sitwasyon ng pandemya (We still have a few months to prepare our schools to follow minimum public health standards, such as proper ventilation, and also prepare for contingencies based on the situation of the pandemic)," he added, urging the Department of Health (DOH) to set a four- to five-month plan to achieve a target number of booster shots for the students.
The senator said teachers should, likewise, have received a booster shot.
Villanueva noted that the additional expenses, particularly the fares of students and teachers, should also be considered amid the high prices of fuel and other goods.
"Kasama po ng ating panawagan na mas mabilis na pagbibigay ng fuel subsidy para sa transport sector ang patuloy na pagpapatupad ng student discounts sa pamasahe. Maliban po sa mga magulang ng estudyante, alalahanin din po ng mga guro natin ang dagdag gastos sa pamasahe at bilihin (Our call includes the faster distribution of fuel subsidies for the transport sector and the continued implementation of the student fare discounts. Apart from the parents of the students, our teachers would also mind the additional expenses in fares and commodities)," he said.
Villanueva pledged to push for measures in the Senate that intend to add benefits for teachers and other personnel of public schools, state universities and colleges, and state-run technical and vocational institutions to ease the burden brought by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Senator Nancy Binay also called on the national government to ensure that all school staff members are fully vaccinated and that schools are fully compliant with safety protocols before the planned implementation of full face-to-face classes in November.
"As a parent, syempre, before the full face-to-face sa November, gusto rin nating yung mga teacher and support staff ay bakunado at may booster, trained sila for the new normal, yung classrooms are well-ventilated, health and safety protocols are strictly implemented, maayos ang spacing ng mga estudyante, may tubig at sabon sa wash areas at CR. Ibig sabihin (we want the teachers and support staff to have received vaccination and booster shots; that they should be trained for the new normal; classrooms should be well-ventilated; health and safety protocols should be strictly implemented; there should be proper spacing among students; there are water and soap in wash areas and comfort rooms. This means that), by September, schools must be ready and compliant there is a proper spacing for the students," Binay said in a statement on Wednesday.
She added that the necessary testing protocols must be in place to ensure the safety of teachers and students, as she urged the DOH to fast-track giving booster shots to learners.
She also urged local government units to help the DepEd in mapping which schools are already 100 percent compliant with health protocols.
Binay expressed her confidence in the Vice President, saying that she is looking forward to a much-improved education sector. (PNA)