A day after President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address, Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) President and Quirino Gov. Dax Cua thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for reiterating the government's "no vaccine, no face-to-face classes" policy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Cua said Tuesday it was a decision that he and many local chief executives welcomed as it would help them in their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to Cua, who earlier raised concerns that the conduct of face-to-face classes would lead to a surge of COVID-19 cases in provinces like Quirino, said that LGU heads like himself are committed to protecting the lives of their constituents.
“The President is right. Whatever lessons our students miss, they can make up. But a life, once lost, is gone forever,” said Cua.
"For now, we prioritize the lives of our constituents. As the frontliners of the government, LGUs know the realities on the ground. We are happy that the Presiden—as a former LGU chief—recognizes the challenges we face in order to keep our provinces COVID-free."
Only four provinces in the country have zero cases of COVID-19—Aurora, Batanes, the Dinagat Islands, and Quirino.
In the SONA held on Monday, the President said that “until the COVID-19 vaccine is available, I will not allow the traditional face-to-face teaching or learning unless [all] risks of exposure to sickness are eliminated. I cannot and will not put to risk the health and lives of our students and teachers.”
Cua, a former legislator, urged other LGU executives to work with the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide viable alternatives to face-to-face classes.
He pointed out that Quirino has adopted a Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan developed by the DepEd School Division of Quirino (SDO) to ensure that Quirino's 46,227 public elementary and secondary students are able to receive their education this school year.
When school opens in August, Cua said that Quirino will be utilizing the following learning approaches: (1) modular distance learning through the use of Self Learning Modules (SLMs); (2) distance learning through different online platforms to be delivered via the internet, television, radio, or modular materials, digitized SLMs and textbooks; and (3) for SPED (special education) learners, video presentation of lessons prepared by select special education teachers.
"Certain initiatives and strategies to facilitate delivery of learning materials will be undertaken, in coordination with barangays, for the dissemination of modular educational materials and the tapping of sari-sari store as drop off/pick up points of instruction related materials," explained the governor.
"We have no choice but to innovate and find tenable workarounds for our kids, because the alternative is a year wasted because no parent will be comfortable sending their child to school under the current circumstances," he said.