With children cooped up in their houses for months now, the Department of Education (DepEd)-National Capital Region (NCR) on Friday announced its plan to come up with a program that would enable students to briefly visit their schools and interact with their peers.

200318 classSuspension08 vicoy - DepEd-NCR mulls bringing back kids to school
(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

DepEd NCR Regional Director Malcolm Garma, during the DepEd NCR virtual kick-off for school opening, said that they are planning to seek permission from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow children to the go back to their schools even for a short period of time.

“This stemmed from my personal realization when we conducted community visits for the opening of classes,” Garma said. He, along with other officials from the schools division offices, conducted school and community visits recently to personally see the school opening readiness when classes start on Oct. 5.

Garma observed that many of the children they have visited were “very shy” and would “just stay in one corner unless talked to.” When prodded further, many of them shared their longing to physically go back to school to see their friends and their teachers.

Children, who have been inside their houses for almost eight months now, are affected by prolonged lockdown in many areas, Garma said. “What we don’t want to happen is to produce a generation of children with social or psychological trauma because they are confined inside their houses and were not allowed to go out,” he added.

Garma, who is also a member of the regional IATF, said that this initiative is only for the Metro Manila schools only. “We are planning to make a recommendation if this will be possible because NCR remains the epicenter of COVID-19,” he added.

The DepEd NCR, Garma said, will make a recommendation for a program that would enable the children to socialize with others in the school setting. “We’re looking into the possibility of working with LGUs to bring children – in batches of 10 or so – to their nearby schools so they can see the teachers and their fellow students as well,” he added.

Garma said they won’t force the proposal if they are not allowed. He noted that when the NCR will be placed under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), he will formally put the recommendation into motion.

NCR is still under GCQ until Oct. 31.

If allowed, Garma clarified that children will not hold classes in schools. “It will be a short activity, just to let them see each other and play and after two hours, they can go back to their homes,” he said.

The children can be brought by parents themselves or they can be provided with a service vehicle from a barangay from their houses to the nearby school and vice versa. “Many of the schools are just near the homes of these learners so we are hoping that this recommendation would be taken into consideration.”

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