Amid the continuous decrease of COVID-19 cases and the easing of pandemic-related restrictions nationwide, Senator Win Gatchalian is urging local government units (LGUs) to allow schools in their areas to conduct limited face-to-face classes.
Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, has been pushing for the opening of all schools for limited face-to-face classes, citing both economic benefits and the urgency of addressing the impact of prolonged school closures.
Schools that have not resumed face-to-face classes are still waiting for the concurrence of their respective LGUs.
There are 6,406 schools, including 130 private schools, conducting limited face-to-face classes as of March 5. Under the Progressive Expansion phase of limited face-to-face classes, which started last February, 6,641 schools were nominated to conduct in-person classes. These schools have passed the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT).
Out of these nominated schools, 6,122 or 92% are already conducting limited face-to-face classes, while 519 or 8% have not yet started.
With 39 areas, including the National Capital Region, under Alert Level 1 and the rest of the country under Alert Level 2, Gatchalian said restrictions on holding limited face-to-face classes should be eased.
The lawmaker pointed out that millions of learners have yet to return to school since face-to-face classes were suspended in March 2020. As of March 5, there are 908,751 learners participating in limited face-to-face classes. There are 27.41 million learners enrolled in the basic education system for School Year 2021-2022.
“Ngayong binubuksan na natin ang ating ekonomiya, hindi na rin natin dapat ipagpaliban pa ang pagkakaroon ng limited face-to-face classes sa lahat ng ating mga paaralan. Ang aking panawagan sa mga LGUs: pahintulutan na natin ang mga paaralan na magsagawa ng limited face-to-face classes upang masimulan ang pagbangon ng ating sektor ng edukasyon,” said Gatchalian.
According to the National Economic Development and Authority (NEDA), the expansion of face-to-face classes will add P12 billion per week to the economy. The additional economic output would come from the resumption of business and services around schools like transportation, dormitories, food stalls, and the sale of school materials.