MANILA - Children will not be required to participate in the proposed pilot run of face-to-face classes, at least two senators said Thursday.
The Senate has adopted a resolution recommending the conduct of face-to-face pilot classes in areas with low to zero COVID-19 cases, said Senator Joel Villanueva.
"Hindi ito (It's not) mandatory. The parents can make the decision of allowing their children to go to classes," he told ANC's Headstart.
The pilot tests can begin in some 200 towns that have zero COVID-19 cases, according to Villanueva.
The local government, local health officials, and school board must approve the conduct of the pilot run of face-to-face classes before it can begin, he added.
"We are one of the 14 out of 190 countries in the world that maintained this full closure of our schools and its not sitting well with the data we've been receiving. Even pre-pandemic we don’t get good international assessment," he said.
"We really have to start the ball rolling in this particular issue."
The conduct of the pilot run is eyed in 1,000 schools nationwide, said Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
"Walang pilitan ito. Kung ang ating mga magulang ay di komportable sa pagpapadala ng kanilang anak sa eskuwelahan, hindi ho pipilitin," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(It's not mandatory. If parents are not comfortable in sending their children to school, we will not force them.)
Face to face classes are important for children to develop their socio-emotional skills and to those who get their nutritious meals at school and face difficulties and abuse at home, the senator added.
"Hindi lang pag-aaral ang pinakaimportante sa mga bata. Ang pinakamahalaga sa kanila ang paghahalubilo, pakikipagkapwa-tao dahil ito ay nadedevelop ang kaniyang communication," he said.
(Studying is not the only important thing to children. It's also important for them to socialize to develop their communication skills.)
President Rodrigo Duterte has twice rejected holding of pilot testing of in-person classes, saying "I am not ready to lose the lives of our young people."