Former Speaker and Davao Del Norte (1st District) representative Pantaleon Alvarez suggested to the Department of Education to consider allowing regular or face-to-face classes in COVID-19 low-risk areas and those with limited capacity to facilitate online learning.
Alvarez said he supports DepEd’s learning continuity plan of using blended learning to ensure the health and safety of students. However, he said the method is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
“Areas with no cases of COVID-19 should consider regular classes. Areas with little to no background when it comes to the digital era should learn about these modern tools, build capacities with the help and support from the government (and the private sector) and gradually – but steadily – shift to the digital age,” he said.
“Necessity requires us to consider context and be open to the fact that traditional classes may be the more effective and practical option for certain areas of our country,” Alvarez added.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier asked President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the Department of Education (DepEd) to continue its preparation for the school opening based on their road map.
She added no face-to-face classes would be held to allow DepEd to continue with its preparations, in compliance with Duterte’s stand of “no vaccine, no classes.”
But Representative Alvarez pointed out that not all teachers, students, and families could afford a laptop, a tablet, or other digital devices, or even has access to the Internet, radio, or television at home.
“Yes, some areas must adopt a distance learning program given the risk of face-to-face classes. Yes, we have to continue shifting to the digital age as a necessity. However, we have to balance these aspirations with on-the-ground realities. Some areas are not considered high risk when it comes to the spread of COVID-19,” Alvarez insisted.
“Also, some areas lack digital gadgets and/or have limited capacity, on the part of end users, to utilize modern learning tools. A nuanced, and area-specific approach, is the best and realistic way forward,” he added.
“If we do not adopt an area-specific solution to the problems that we presently face, a more promising future for our students will tragically be part of COVID-19’s collateral damage,” he said.