Placing the National Capital Region (NCR) under Alert Level 1 would pave the way for more schools participating in limited face-to-face classes, Senator Win Gatchalian said.
The re-electionist senator continues to push for the safe resumption of in-person learning, noting that the lack of face-to-face classes would cause what economic managers called education and economic scarring. Estimates from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) show that the lack of face-to-face classes for a year will cost P11 trillion in productivity losses over the next 40 years.
“Ang ligtas na pagbabalik ng face-to-face classes ay mahalagang hakbang upang makabangon ang sektor ng edukasyon mula sa epekto ng pandemya, at patuloy natin itong tututukan,” said Gatchalian.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has approved placing the National Capital Region under Alert Level 1 from March 1 to 15, citing a high vaccination rate and a downward trend in both the Health Care Utilization Rate and COVID-19 Bed Utilization Rate. Regional average positivity rate in the region is also at 4.64% based on the distribution of RT-PCR tests done and positivity rates by local government units, the local chief executives said in a resolution they adopted on February 22.
Despite improvements in the country’s COVID-19 situation, however, Gatchalian maintained the need to ensure the strict implementation of public health protocols in schools. He emphasized the need to expand vaccination coverage among teachers and learners nationwide, especially among the 14 million learners aged 5-to-11 who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier this month, the Department of Education (DepEd) allowed the progressive expansion of face-to-face classes in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2. Schools participating in limited face-to-face classes should be compliant with the standards of the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT). Only vaccinated teachers are allowed to participate in face-to-face classes. Learners who are vaccinated will also be given preference.
“Ngayong patuloy ang pagbuti ng sitwasyon sa Metro Manila at sa maraming bahagi ng bansa, dapat tutukan at bigyan natin ng prayoridad ang ligtas na pagbabalik ng ating mga mag-aaral sa face-to-face classes,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.