MANILA – A teachers’ group slammed Sunday President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to cancel limited in-person classes, which were supposed to be pilot-tested in January, calling the move a “knee-jerk reaction.”
In a public briefing Saturday, Duterte announced he was taking back his order to conduct a dry run of limited in-person classes in areas with low risk of COVID-19 transmission next month due to the discovery of a new strain of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
The decision shows that the Duterte administration is “in the dark” and “in limbo” in terms of handling the pandemic, ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said in a statement.
“Hence its knee-jerk responses of holding back the conduct of face-to-face classes as opposed to employing a scientifically guided risk assessment of where and when physical classes can be held in light of the discovery of new strains,” he added.
Basilio said the risk of the new strains of COVID-19 should not derail initial steps in bringing students safely back to school.
“Instead, it should push the government to heed calls to guarantee health and safety in schools, maintain non-transmission in remote areas, provide ample tech infrastructure for remote learning, among others,” he said.
In an interview, Basilio said it was important to resume in-person classes because the current distance-learning setup is a failure.
“Wala pa ring sapat na bilang ng modules, walang maayos at abot kayang internet services, at walang sapat na gamit panturo ang mga guro,” he told ABS-CBN News.
(There’s an insufficient number of modules, we lack decent and affordable internet services, and teachers don’t have enough resources to teach.)
The Department of Education has said it would comply with Duterte’s order to suspend the dry run of limited in-person classes.
Under the distance-learning system, students study from their homes through printed and digital modules, online classes, television, and radio.
But some have cited challenges with distance learning, such as learners’ difficulty in studying by themselves and unreliable internet connectivity, among others.
Malacañang had said Duterte approved the DepEd’s recommendation to hold a dry run of limited in-person classes because the chief executive also thought that the implementation of distance learning in the country was “far from ideal.”