Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the basic education committee in the Senate, said the no vaccine, no classes stand is “antipoor,” citing total postponement of classes would leave public school students behind.
“Postponing classes and not doing anything will leave our poor students left behind. They will really fall back. We already had low scores in the [Program for International Student Assessment], and now they would be left behind,” he said in a television interview.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development conducted an assessment for students in 79 countries in late 2019. Results showed Filipino students scored lowest in reading comprehension and second-lowest in mathematical and scientific literacy.
Gatchalian noted that it might be too late for some students if classes would resume after a COVID-19 vaccine is made available.
He said the government should find innovative ways to teach students even without face to face classes.
“So it’s a bad idea to completely postpone school. We can still continue to teach using innovative methods, and this is using TV, radio, and using other forms,” he said.
Gatchalian earlier expressed his concern over Department Education’s seeming lack of details on the opening of classes for primary and secondary level in August.
He gave DepEd until May 31 to present to Senate basic education committee the details on measures needed to ensure the safety of both students and teachers should the classes resume on August 24.
Duterte, solons, senators, PTAs push for no vaccine, no classes
President Rodrigo Duterte said no classes would be open until a COVID-19 vaccine is made available.
“It spells disaster,” Duterte said in a televised address aired late Monday night, noting he would not risk the lives of students without a vaccine.
Senators, lawmakers, parents, and teachers also opposed the opening of classes without a vaccine against the pandemic.
Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. and Probinsyano party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong also asked DepEd to cancel the opening of classes this year, explaining online courses “also unnecessarily gives parents additional financial and emotional burden.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Joel Villanueva recently filed similar bills proposing to amend Republic Act No. 7977. Under this law, “the school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.”