By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian, who recently visited participating schools in
Valenzuela for the limited face-to-face classes, shared the observation of
teachers and school officials in the city that the lack of face-to-face classes
for more than a year took a toll on the social skills of children.
For Gatchalian, learning recovery should not only focus on academics but should
give equal emphasis on the social and emotional development of children.
“Nakita natin na mahalaga ang face-to-face classes hindi lang dahil sa academics, dahil
dito rin sila natututo pagdating sa kanilang social skills,” Gatchalian added.
Earlier this year, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 2355 or the Academic Recovery and
Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act to institute a nationwide learning
recovery program. The proposed ARAL program aims to benefit struggling learners
and focus on the most essential learning competencies on Language, Mathematics,
Aside from helping learners with academic recovery, the proposed program also seeks
to provide the adequate provision of nutritional, social, emotional, and mental
health support to learners.
While the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has not been detected in the country,
Gatchalian emphasized that its threat should not be taken lightly as more
schools join the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes.
On December 6, over 2,000 learners from 28 schools in the National Capital Region
participated in the dry run of limited face-to-face classes.
Gatchalian hopes that all learners in the country can participate in limited face-to-face
classes by January 2022. He admits, however, that Omicron could affect the
expansion of limited face-to-face classes, especially if it ends up being more
transmissible than other variants including Delta. Omicron has been detected in
38 countries to date but it has not been linked to any deaths.
“Kung ang Omicron ay hindi naman malala, sa tingin ko kayang magbukas ng limited
face-to-face classes ang iba pang mga paaralan sa January. Pero kapag ang
Omicron ay malala, then we have no choice kundi maging mas maingat at baka
pwedeng i-postpone pa ang pagbubukas ng mas maraming paaralan,” said
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.