MANILA - Areas with low COVID-19 transmission risk may slowly explore having "roving teachers" to aid students before the year ends, the chairman of the Senate education committee said Tuesday.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said it would be "more disruptive" to open up schools in low-risk areas by 30 percent and then withdraw face-to-face classes upon an increase in COVID-19 cases.
He said the situation is "very volatile," as he cited the case of Batanes, which was previously free of any cases before 2 returning residents were detected with the coronavirus.
Instead, he suggested that teachers in low-risk areas go to their students' community and "support them with tutoring, learning and interaction" in small groups of 5 to 10 pupils.
"This is a modality that we can explore slowly in low-risk areas," he told ANC's Headstart.
"As long as you practice social distancing, you have enough space, it’s open air, and the roving teacher goes there, that’s feasible and I think that can happen sooner than the new year," he said.
He said under this modality, teachers should be protected with regular COVID-19 testing and free treatment should they contract the illness.
"Without that, they would not have the confidence to do their job because it’s a very risky job at this point," he said.
Benjie Basas, national chairperson of Teachers Dignity Coalition, said whether or not the suggestion of having "roving teachers" is implemented, they should have been covered with the same benefits afforded to other frontliners.
"With or without this pandemic, we have the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers which provides every teacher should be given itong medical benefits na ito kasama po ang libreng test taon-taon at syempre hospitalization and even compensation for injuries," he told Headstart in a later interview.
Over 22 million public school students began the new school year on Monday. The government employed different modes of distance learning such as printed and digital modules, online classes, and lessons delivered through television and radio.
- with Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News