In a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on the evening of July 20, 2020, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones proposed the resumption of face-to-face classes on a limited capacity in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
In a report by Inquirer.net, Briones states that the limited face-to-face classes shall only be conducted for one to two days out of the five-day school week and only in areas that have a smaller percentage of COVID-19 transmission, such as those currently under MGCQ.
The Education Secretary adds that this proposal aims to address the "inequality gaps" that students with limited access to digital resources experience in an online learning setting.
According to the report, the president has already okayed the proposal. On the same day, the president also signed RA 11480, which now allows schools to open classes later than August. Currently, schools are slated to resume on August 24.
DepEd trends as students air out concerns
After hearing of the approved DepEd proposal regarding face-to-face learning, individuals took to social media to air out their dilemmas about complying with the proposal. Many are concerned that the proposal is counterproductive due to the increasing cases of COVID-19 in the country.
Students and teachers alike are also clamoring for an academic freeze for fear of compromising the quality of education and learning while the country is battling the pandemic. Twitter user @DiaryNiMichael whose mom is a teacher shared their concerns about the lack of resources and supplies as well as risking their health by delivering modules to students on a weekly basis.
Justine Jae Calatong, President of University of the East - Manila's Student Council, points out the risk students will face when limited face-to-face classes are enforced, "Limited face-to-face classes even in MGCQ given limited days of classes still puts the life of our children in great danger. We should remember that the state, at all cost, must protect the lives of its people most especially its children who happened to be vulnerable in getting the virus.
"Who will be accountable when these children get the virus? How can the parents and the whole family inside their home assure the safety of their children even their lives if even in strict lockdown and quarantine measures taken by the communities, cases are still rising rapidly, what more when we let our children out? We believe that the government must prioritize the safety, health and lives of our children above all with that, we must not let our children out of their homes until we have flatten the curve."
In May 2020, President Duterte said that no face-to-face classes shall happen until a vaccine for COVID-19 has been created. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque later clarified that holding face-to-face classes isn't happening until community quarantines have been fully lifted and areas have started adapting to the "new normal." He adds, "The bottomline is, we will not compromise the health of our youth."
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