The Department of Education (DepEd) has recently proposed to President Rodrigo Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) the resumption of face-to-face classes in areas deemed as “low-risk,” based on the number of COVID-19 cases. And just this morning, July 21, President Duterte has approved the proposal.
The President says he gave DepEd the green light so we could be “productive even how constricted the times are.” The limited face-to-face classes will start in January 2021, according to the Malacañang Palace.
Following the go-signal, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones assured parents that minimum health standards will be observed in all schools and that it’s not every day that physical classes will be required. However, despite the assurance that minimum health protocols will be observed, many are still concerned about the resumption of face-to-face classes, as it puts the health of both students and school staff at risk. (Read: An Expert Explains Why You Should Consider Homeschooling Your Kids)
Inirerekomenda ang pagsisimula ng 'limited face-to-face learning' sa third quarter ng school year o sa Enero 2021 sa mga piling paaralan lamang. Suportado naman ng Pangulo ang programang ito, bunsod na rin ng kahilingan ng mga LGU, mambabatas, at ilang pribadong paaralan. pic.twitter.com/SRdJezA9v5
— DepEd (@DepEd_PH) July 21, 2020
In fact, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition has opposed this move by the government. “Sa aming palagay ay napakadelikado pa ng face-to-face classes sa mga lugar na mababa o kahit pa walang kaso ng COVID-19,” said Teachers’ Dignity Coalition Chair Benjo Basas.
He adds that holding physical classes will increase the risk of spreading the virus as more people will be allowed to go out of their homes.
Aside from the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition, many other organizations have been arguing about the risks of holding face-to-face classes in the middle of a pandemic. Here are some of the various reasons that they cite as to why it isn’t the best idea to resume face-to-face classes yet.
Physical Distancing Might Not Be Observed
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that individuals stay three meters apart to lessen the chances of infecting others or getting infected. But as we all know, public schools in the Philippines are overpopulated. Most classrooms accommodate students that are way more than the room’s actual capacity—some classrooms are even used by two separate classes at once.
Given this, physical distancing might not be observed between students which can increase the risk of contracting diseases such as COVID-19.
Decreased Immune System
The immune system plays a huge role in preventing us from getting infected by COVID-19, which is why health experts are encouraging everyone to eat healthier during these times to strengthen their immune systems. However, it is a known fact that many children in the Philippines are malnourished because of poverty and inaccessibility of food.
This means that their immune systems may not be as strong as we would like it to be. It increases their risk of contracting diseases such as COVID-19.