Further delay of school opening proposed due to COVID-19 fears

The tentative opening of schools is set on August 24, but two lawmakers are proposing that it should be moved at a later date or even canceled for the year completely to give parents a peace mind amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd district Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. stood firm regarding his recommendation that the Department of Education  (DepEd) suspends Department Order No. 007, which sets the reopening of classes on August 24.

Under this DepEd order, the school year 2020-2021 will be between August 24, 2020 and April 30, 2021, consisting of 203 days.

“Kasi pag umalis ang anak mo sa bahay, napakagulo ng isip mo kung ganyan ang sitwasyon. Lalo na kung hindi lang isa, kung lima ang anak mo nasa school, eh napakagulo ng isip mo, hindi ka mapakali. We are saving lives,” Gonzales said in a radio interview.

He explained that other countries like South Korea and France that reopened their schools have recorded new COVID-19 cases among students.

“The [French] Education Minister reported that they have recorded 17 new cases of COVID-19 in schools that were allowed to reopen last week,” he said.

The lawmaker earlier filed a resolution that aims to suspend classes “until and unless a vaccine against COVID-19 has been discovered and included in the Philippine national drug formulary.”

His resolution has been referred to the House Defeat Covid-19 committee, co-chaired by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Majority Leader and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez.

The lawmaker further explained that safe distance learning is not possible in far-flung areas where internet might not be accessible.

“Natatakot po ako there will be plenty of students [who] will be left behind,” he said.

“We will follow the wisdom of the leadership, headed by Speaker Cayetano. Kung ano po ang sabihin niya, we will respect. We will listen to the sentiments of our House members,” he concluded.

In addition to this, Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong requested that DepEd cancel the resumption of classes this year, saying that giving schools the option to hold virtual classes “also unnecessarily gives parents additional financial and emotional burden.”

“Sobrang hirap na ng buhay ng ating mga magulang sa panahon na ito ng COVID pandemic. Halos wala nang makain ang marami sa ating mga magulang dahil walang hanapbuhay habang naka-quarantine,” he said.

He emphasized that many hard-to-reach areas aren’t ready for the shift to online education.

“DepEd should just postpone the entire school year without any exception. Our policy should apply to all to avoid any confusion. We are unprepared for this crisis,” Ong said.

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