MANILA – Various groups on Monday urged the government to start working on the safe and gradual holding of face-to-face classes in schools, saying that students are losing interest in their studies because of the difficulties of distance learning.
Franz Beltran, president of the De La Salle University Senior High School Student Council, said a number of students have stopped attending online classes after finding that their "learning environment" was "not conducive."
"Napakarami na ring students ang patuloy na nawawalan ng motivation, nawawalan ng morale sa bawat araw na lumilipas, sa bawat araw na nag-aaral sila sa online mode na ito," Beltran said in a virtual press conference.
(Many students continue to lose their motivation and morale every day that they study through this online mode.)
The hashtag #AcademicBreakNow also made the list of top trending topics on Twitter Philippines on Monday morning as users, who were presumably students, expressed their exhaustion from remote learning.
In response to calls for an "academic break," Commission on Higher Education chairman Prospero de Vera III said universities and colleges "are already doing it."
"CHED has already said that it will not issue a 'one size fits all policy' because conditions on the ground are different across different parts of the country. This is best decided by individual colleges & universities," De Vera said in a text message.
Parents are also struggling
Aside from students, some parents, such as Junjun Buquiran, said they are also struggling to support their children's education.
"Tatlo po anak ko na nag-aaral. Hindi po namin natutukan ang pag-aaral ng mga anak namin dahil po kakulangan ng mga gamit. Kung mayroon man pong isang cellphone po, bale pinagtulung-tulungan na lang nilang mapang-abot sa online class," said Buquiran, a jeepney driver.
(I have three children who are in school. We can't focus on our children's studies because we lack tools. My children use just one cellphone so they can attend their online class.)
"Sana matulungan po kami para po maibalik na lang iyong dating normal na klase, kasi po iyong mga online class, wala po natututunan ang mga anak namin," he added.
(We hope to get help for us to return to the old normal in schooling because our children aren't learning anything through their online classes.)
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said it is now time to begin the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes in schools with zero or low COVID-19 transmission.
The pilot run will lead to the gradual reopening of schools, Elago said.
"Kung gaano po may varying levels ng community quarantine sa iba't ibang areas dito sa ating bansa, gayun din dapat ang patakaran pagdating sa school closure," she said.
(We should have different policies on school closure similar to how we have varying levels of community quarantine in different areas of the country.)
Meanwhile, Eule Bonganay, secretary general of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns, called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to hire more learning support aides who would help children as they study at home.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier told ABS-CBN News that the DepEd was continuously preparing for the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes.
She also said the dry run would be immediately implemented once President Rodrigo Duterte gives the go-signal.
The government was supposed to hold a dry run last January but Duterte cancelled it over fears of the more infectious coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles has said Duterte may reconsider his position on in-person classes once the country has rolled out 2 million COVID-19 vaccines.
– With a report from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News