Allow face-to-face classes in some areas -- solon

THE Department of Educatiion should consider face-to-face classes in areas with low-risk or even zero case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This is the appeal of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon D. Alvarez to the DepEd adding that there are also areas, mostly in the provinces, with limited digital capacity.

Earlier this month, DepEd confirmed that no face-to-face classes will be held for the coming school year, with the standard curriculum converted to a distance learning program.

This is in compliance with the directive of President Duterte to postpone the conventional classes until the public health crisis is placed under control. 

“While we should support these steps taken by DepEd to minimize the spread of COVID-19, we must remember that there is also an imminent danger to the Filipino students’ education and future. The online and broadcast materials proposed by DepEd may be helpful, but these are not easily available for many teachers, students, and families,” Alvarez said.

The former Speaker pointed out that not everyone has the means to purchase a laptop, a tablet, and other digital devices for online classes.

In addition, Alvarez said,  not everyone has access to - or can afford - internet connection.

“As a matter of fact, there are Filipino families who do not even have radios or televisions at home. This is the reality we cannot ignore,” Alvarez said.

“Moreover, given the sudden shift to the digital age, our government’s capacity (as well as those of our teachers and students in far flung areas) requires sufficient time and experience to catch up for familiarization with new technological tools. Sadly, many of our schools, our teachers, and our students in the peripheries have not even seen, or held, digital gadgets nor do they have much experience with the internet,” he added.

The solon said while some areas can adopt  a distance learning program given the risk of face-to-face classes, there are areas which are low-risk that can continue the face-to-face learning.

“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. In the meantime, however, 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 county,” he said.