Press Release
March 3, 2021

Senate recommends immediate holding of pilot testing for safe face-to-face classes

The Senate on Tuesday adopted a resolution recommending the resumption of face-to-face classes through the immediate launching of pilot testing in COVID-19 low risk areas in the country.

Proposed Senate Resolution No. (PSN) 663, taking into consideration PSN 668, supports the holding of pilot testing of localized limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas as identified by the Department of Education (DepEd) under risk-based assessment to enable the gathering of evidence on the ground and design a framework for the safe reopening of schools.

Principally-authored by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, Sens. Win Gatchalian, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Joel Villanueva, and Sonny Angara, the resolution also took into account the holding of pilot testing following stringent mitigation measures, strict health protocols, and guidelines of the Department of Health (DOH) and of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

In sponsoring the measure, Sotto recognized that distance learning has its advantages especially at a time of pandemic where health and safety are utmost priority, but stressed that face-to-face learning remains a necessity for education.

"It is important to consider that not all householdS have the same resources and access to internet. Moreover, allowing teachers to see their students face-to-face, even on an intermittent schedule, will enable greater opportunities to check on the learning progress of the students and to provide needed instructional supervision and interventions," Sotto said.

"Likewise, the customary face-to-face classes prevent gaps and remove the inequality between those students who can afford an effective remote education and those in the marginalized sector," he added.

For his part, Gatchalian, who heads the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, stressed that this resolution does not seek to railroad the return of face-to-face classes nationwide.

"We cannot allow Filipino learners to be left behind any longer. In the long and harrowing road toward ending the perennial education crisis in our country, the implementation and normalization of face-to-face education in the New Normal is a pivotal milestone that can only be achieved if we are willing to take the first brave step of launching the pilot testing of localized limited face-to-face classes," Gatchalian said.

According to the resolution, "the prolonged pandemic school closures have adversely affected the learners' education, but impacting more severely the most vulnerable and marginalized learners and their families and aggravating the already existing disparities within the education system such as gaps in nutrition and childcare."

The resolution cited the report of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) during a recent Basic Education Committee hearing, which shows the Philippines as the only country in the East Asia and Pacific region where schools have remained closed since March 2020, and that globally, there are only 13 other countries that have not opened schools since their respective lockdowns last year.

It was also reported during the said hearing that as of February 9, 2021, there are 433 municipalities and three cities in the country with zero active cases of COVID-19, and that the identified 1,065 schools that are projected to participate in the pilot study for localized limited face-to-face classes represent only around 2.2 percent of all public schools nationwide.

The resolution said pilot testing will guide the DepEd to set specific standards and health protocols, in coordination with the DOH and IATF-EID, to reopen schools safely, including 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.

The resolution also stressed that pilot testing shall be implemented in low risk areas, and the participation by learners shall be voluntary and with expressed permission by their parents and/or guardians.

"To ensure that this endeavor will progress through shared responsibility with the LGUs and will be implemented on a case-to-case basis, the Provincial School Board, the City School Board, and the Municipal School Board shall assume the major task of assessing and recommending whether to reopen, adopt selective school or localized lockdowns, and resume face-to-face classes in their respective localities, taking into consideration local conditions and resources," the resolution said.

News Latest News Feed