MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday expressed disagreement with proposals to implement a nationwide academic break amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the decision for such measure should come from basic education and higher education institutions.
In a statement, Gatchalian said poor and vulnerable learners will only be left behind due to additional disruptions that the nationwide academic break will bring.
He also said that prolonged school closures may result in learning loss, widening inequalities, and increased exposure to violence, among others.
“I don’t agree with the call to implement a nationwide academic break. Iba-iba naman ang quarantine qualification at may mga lugar na walang lockdown. Mahirap naman pong mag-academic freeze sa isang lugar na walang kaso ng COVID-19. Kaya hindi pwede itong academic freeze para sa pangkalahatan dahil iba-iba ang sitwasyon,” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education.
“Sa basic education, isang taon nang hindi nagpupunta sa mga eskwelahan ang mga bata at kapag sila ay patuloy na bibigyan ng break at hindi sila mag-aaral, talagang makakalimutan na nila ang kanilang pinag-aralan,” he added.
The senator pointed out that in Isabela, which is currently under general community quarantine, the Department of Education (DepEd) suspended the distribution and retrieval of self-learning modules and other face-to-face activities after five DepEd personnel recently died due to COVID-19.
Teachers in the division, however, are expected to remotely continue their follow-ups and monitoring of learners, according to Gatchalian.
Meanwhile, some colleges and universities in the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna – called ‘NCR Plus’ – already suspended classes or implemented academic ease measures due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. These include the University of Santo Tomas, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Cavite State University, and De La Salle University.
While the NCR Plus is now under modified enhanced community quarantine until the end of the month, Gatchalian pointed out that most of the country is under general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine, where the implementation of distance or flexible learning can still continue.