Gatchalian: Senate panel to inquire on expansion of face-to-face classes

Gatchalian: Senate panel to inquire on expansion of face-to-face classes

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA – The Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture is set to conduct an inquiry on the planned expansion of limited face-to-face classes next year, Senator Win Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate’s basic education panel, says the public hearing will consider developments such as the threat of the Omicron variant and the vaccination of minors aged 5-11. The government is eyeing the vaccination of minors below 12 by January 2022 if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants emergency use approvals to COVID-19 vaccines for children’s use this month.

The pilot run of in-person learning was originally set to end on January 31, 2022, while the expansion phase was scheduled on March 7, 2022. The Department of Education (DepEd), however, recently announced that the pilot run will conclude by December. While the DepEd eyes the expansion of limited face-to-face classes by January, the timeline will ultimately depend on the assessment of the Department of Health (DOH).

To date, 272 schools have been participating in the dry run of limited face-to-face classes nationwide. No COVID-19 cases have so far been reported and linked to the dry run of in-person learning, the DepEd reported.

Citing the negative impact of prolonged school closures, Gatchalian earlier urged the DepEd and the DOH to shorten the original timeline and avoid a two-year lack of face-to-face classes. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimates that the yearlong lack of face-to-face classes will result in P11 trillion in lost productivity over the next 40 years. (ai/mtvn)

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