Teachers and parents demand: Safe reopening of schools

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The Alli­ance of Concer­ned Teachers (ACT) criticized Rodrigo Duterte for reneging on his plan to reopen a limited number of schools for face-to-face classes this January. Teachers said that this is a neglect of his duty to ensure the need for safe, quality and accessible education during the pandemic. The group called this a “passive response” where people are left to choose between life and health, and the right to services such as education. “We are fed up with this tactic,” said the group.

ACT pointed out that the state must strive to ensure the safe reopening of schools for face-to-face classes. Teachers consider this as still the most efficient means method of instruction and learning. This demand is becoming more immediate in the face of the implementation of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) failed and inefficient blended learning system in the past five months. The program lacked preparations, modules are erroneous, and many are not able to cope with the method of instruction.

DepEd does not explain the importance, risks and need to prepare for the safe reopening of schools. Because of this, many parents thought that schools will be reopened simultaneously in all parts of the country, whether the area is Covid-free or not. They are extremely anxious because of the virus and the cost of hospitalization should they or their children be infected with the virus.

Sandy was among the parents who thought that schools will be reopened simultaneously. “Safety first before education,” she said. Others said that schools should only be reopened “when there is already a vaccine” or “maybe next year.” However, the possibility of innoculation especially among children is still far from being realized as they are least prioritized by the regime. Until now, they are locked up in their houses without any plans on how they can return to their normal lives.

There are also a number of parents who are supportive of the plan to reopen schools despite the lack of information about it. Le­na who has four children finds the modular learning system difficult. “I was only able to reach Grade 3 and I am in not position to teach them.” She worries that her eldest child will not pass Grade 12 as learning without a teacher is extended. No one in their family is a high school graduate.

“Actually, I feel bad,” said Joy. “Why have they just planned this out at the end of the year? Why have they made us suffer for five months under this modular system when face-to-face classes were possible?” Joy just gave birth when classes under the blended learning system started in August last year. She is the only one taking care of her five-month old infant and her two other children who are in Gra­de 2 and Gra­de 6.

“Mothers are loaded with so much household work. They cook, do the laundry, clean, wash the plates and find money,” said Gi­na. “I could not concentrate in teaching my children because I’m already tired. They are also lazy to study because they are just at home.”

Those who favor face-to-face clas­ses also said that health measures must be observed in schools, such as the wearing of face ­mask and face s­hi­eld, maintaing physical distancing, limited hours and days of school days to ensure that classrooms will not be crammed. They understand the risks of face-to-face classes, and pledged to responsibly follow protocols to ensure their children’s safety. They are willing to participate in any program that DepEd will suggest as long as they are consulted first. Meanwhile, Fanny said that “My children learn almost nothing from the modules. I make their projects and answer their assignments.”

“Why were bystanders allowed to go on drinking sprees, while children are not allowed to study properly?” The regime reopened all other establishments in October, including places for entertainment.

From November to December, many cities and towns have already identified Covid-free ba­ra­ngays. An area is considered Covid-free if it has not recorded any case in the two weeks. Outside Metro Manila, there are many areas with extremely low infection rates. In such areas, the spread is easily controlled with the residents and local councils’ close coordination.

Teachers and parents demand: Safe reopening of schools