MANILA – Government is being “very cautious” in deciding on whether or not to resume in-person classes for elementary and high school students, an official leading the country’s pandemic response said Tuesday.
This is because many children are considered “super spreaders” of the new coronavirus and the country’s basic education system has a large student population, said National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez.
“Based doon sa studies, marami sa mga bata super spreaders kaya very cautious tayo and at the same time… 27 million ang magiging affected population. With that, nakita nating magiging complicated,” Galvez said during an inspection at the Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela, which “retrofitted” its facilities for the possible conduct of in-person classes by January.
(Based on studies, many children are super spreaders. That’s why we’re very cautious and at the same time… The affected population is 27 million. With that, we see that it’s going to be complicated.)
Galvez cited figures from the previous school year. This year, over 25 million students are registered in basic education, according to DepEd data.
Both Galvez and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera, who was also at the inspection, agreed that it was more manageable to allow in-person classes in colleges and universities since they could pick which programs needed such type of instruction, limiting the number of students.
“’Pag nag-open sa DepEd, lahat [ng students] ‘yan. Hindi katulad dito sa CHED na interdisciplinary,” said Galvez.
De Vera added that there are degree programs that could be completed this year through flexible learning.
The CHED is set to release guidelines on the conduct of limited in-person classes within the month so higher education institutions could hold such type of instruction by early next year.
Government indefinitely banned the conduct of in-person classes to avoid exposing students and school personnel to the risk of COVID-19, which has so far infected over 432,000 in the country.
President Rodrigo Duterte said physical classes would remain prohibited until a vaccine against COVID-19 is made available in the country.
The Department of Education earlier said it was in favor of holding limited in-person classes in areas with low risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Classes across the country are being held through online and broadcast means or via printed modules, with students staying in their homes.