A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday criticized the Department of Education’s (DepEd) pronouncement on easing social distancing protocols in schools under Alert level 1.
Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said the DepEd should prioritize addressing preparedness of school facilities and class sizes for safe face-to-face classes.
“COVID-19 is still present. Minimum health protocols should not be eased as schools prepare for face-to-face classes in the incoming school year especially when classrooms and school facilities are not adequate for providing safe spaces if social distancing protocols are eased.” Castro said in a statement.
To ensure the safe reopening of classes, Castro said the DepEd must provide classrooms that have better ventilation, air filtration, washing and sanitation facilities; ramp up vaccination programs for the youth; provide weekly testing for teachers and education support personnel; hire nurses in schools; and provide a medical fund for the treatment of those who will get infected with COVID-19.
“Easing physical distancing protocols, even for areas under alert level 1, should not be the first step of the education department in the preparation of in-person classes,” Castro said.
She added the DepEd must also ensure that standard class sizes are followed.
According to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics, class sizes in the Philippines are among the most crowded in Asia, Castro stated.
“While the national average is 38.9 for pupil-classroom ratio, actual class sizes could go to as high as 77 students in one classroom in the National Capital Region,” she said.