As schools nationwide resume five days of face-to-face classes, Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Health (DOH) to exhaust all measures to protect learners and teachers from COVID-19.
Aside from strictly implementing public health protocols and installing adequate handwashing and sanitation facilities, Gatchalian called on the DOH and the DepEd to ensure maximum vaccination coverage among teachers and learners, including and especially those, who are already eligible for their booster shots. Gatchalian earlier proposed school-based vaccination to promote the safe return of learners to schools. He also pointed to the persisting challenge of vaccinating learners in the 5 to 11 age group.
Prior to the opening of School Year 2022-2023, data from the DOH National Vaccination Operations Center showed that as of August this year, only 26.94% of children aged 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated and 76.41% of children aged 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated.
“Matapos ang mahigit dalawang taon ng paghihintay, sa wakas ay masasaksihan na natin ang pagbabalik ng lahat ng mga mag-aaral sa face-to-face classes. Kasabay nito, dapat nating tiyakin ang kanilang kaligtasan, pati na ng kanilang mga guro. Kaya naman patuloy nating dapat isulong ang pagbabakuna upang matiyak natin na ang ating mga guro at mag-aaral ay ligtas sa kanilang mga paaralan,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
“Sa pagkakataong ito, nais ko ring pasalamatan ang ating mga guro dahil sa patuloy nilang pagsisikap upang maipagpatuloy natin ang edukasyon. Hindi natin malalampasan ang mga hamon ng nagdaang taon kung hindi dahil sa kanilang kabayanihan,” Gatchalian added.
The lawmaker also pressed the need to implement genuine learning recovery to address learning loss and mitigate the economic scars resulting from the lack of face-to-face learning. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) previously said that the lack of face-to-face classes for one year alone would cost the economy almost P11 trillion in productivity losses over the next 40 years.
To address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gatchalian has filed Senate Bill No. 155 or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Act which seeks to institute a nationwide program for learning recovery. The proposed program would include tutorial sessions.