Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday proposed that limited face-to-face classes be allowed especially in areas with no reported transmission of COVID-19.

GATCHALIANSHERWIN - Gatchalian proposes limited face-to-face classes in areas with zero COVID
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture said that if businesses can now operate in limited capacities, he sees no reason why limited face-to-face classes cannot be allowed especially if it is done through “purok” (district) workshops.

The senator said holding these district workshops can help address persisting distance learning woes. Roving teachers, for instance, including support aides hired by the Department of Education (DepEd) can be deployed per barangay  or purok to teach a small group of up to 10 children.

“Kung unti-unti na nating binubuksan ang mga negosyo, nararapat lang na pahintulutan na rin nating magkaroon ng limitadong face-to-face classes sa mga lugar na maituturing nating low-risk areas (If we are slowly opening businesses, it’s only right to slowly allow limited face-to-face classes in places that are considered low-risk areas),” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“Ang ating panukala ay gawin ang mga ito sa mga purok ng ating mga komunidad kung saan ang mga maliliit na grupo ng mga mag-aaral ay maaaring gabayan ng mga guro (Our proposal is to hold these in zones in our community where small groups of students can be taught so they can be guided by teachers),” he said.

By mounting these little workshops in low-risk areas, especially those with zero cases of COVID-19, the lawmaker said students will not only receive proper guidance from teachers but also meet their need for social interaction.

The senator said students have not been able to do any social interaction since the imposition of lockdown measures in March.

Based on the map of the University of the Philippines’ tracker, there were less than 500 municipalities that have zero cases of COVID-19 as of Nov. 7.

Gatchalian also pointed out that Internet connectivity remains problematic for teachers and students during this time of distance learning. Even if distributing self-learning modules (SLMs) is an available option for public school learners, some subjects are still difficult to understand without the guidance of a teacher.

He said not all parents or guardians are capable of guiding students in their lessons.

Gatchalian said it is imperative that authorities make sure that minimum health standards such as physical distancing, wearing of masks, disinfecting and proper hygiene should be strictly observed in these small gatherings.

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