/ 4 March 2021

THE SENATE has adopted resolutions recommending the resumption of physical learning through the immediate pilot testing of localized limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas.

Senate Resolutions 663 and 668 were authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Joel Villanueva, and Sonny Angara.

“Kahit tuluyan na nating masugpo ang Covid19, patuloy pa rin tayo sa pagtugon sa mga pinsalang idinulot ng kawalan ng face-to-face classes. Bukod sa pag-urong ng kaalaman, kabilang din dito ang pag-akyat ng mga kaso ng karahasan, pang-aabuso, at ang pagdami ng mga batang ina,” Gatchalian said.

The resolution calls for the voluntary participation of learners and with express permission by their parents or guardians.

It aims to help the Department of Education, in coordination with the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases, set specific standards and health protocols.

These include the provision of safe learning facilities and public health supplies such as adequate supply of safe water, sanitation areas, hand washing stations, soap, alcohol, and other cleaning materials.

To share responsibility with the local government units and ensure that pilot tests are conducted on a case-to-case basis, the resolution assigns to the Provincial School Board, the City School Board, and the Municipal School Board the task of assessing and recommending whether to reopen schools, adopt selective or localized lockdowns, and resume face-to-face classes in their respective localities, taking into consideration local conditions and resources.

Gatchalian, who heads the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said that the quality of distance learning remains hounded by challenges such as the lack of adequate preparation, as well as expensive and unreliable information and communications technology services.