Dabawenyos welcome resumption of face-to-face classes

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 06 March) — Dabawenyos welcome the resumption of face-to-face classes in Davao City after two years of online learning.

This, after Mayor Sara Duterte issued Executive Order 9 on March 2 expressing no objection to all applications for face-to-face classes in private and public schools from kindergarten to post-graduate studies, citing the significant decrease in COVID-19 cases. 

Jenny Mae Casanova, a senior high school teacher at the Davao Doctors College, told MindaNews that face-to-face classes would help improve the performance of students since they can interact directly with teachers and classmates inside a physical classroom unlike online.

“It would also give the students the chance to hone their skills, abilities and knowledge with the direct supervision and guidance from their teachers,” she said.

A Grade 6 pupil looks for a space in a crowded classroom in Marahan West Elementary School in Marahan, Marilog District, Davao City in this file photo by Ruby Thursday More

Holding physical classes, she said, would solve the problem of internet connectivity that usually hinders the learning experience of students attending online sessions. 

Casanova, who is also a third-year law student at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP), added that proper health protocols in face-to-face classes must be strictly enforced to ensure the health and safety of students and teachers. 

She also supported calls to get the students and teachers vaccinated before allowing them to attend physical classes.

The students and teachers must also be fully vaccinated before they will be allowed to resume limited face-to-face classes next semester,” she said.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Wednesday said vaccination is not a requirement for students to attend face-to-face classes. She said vaccination is “voluntary kasi ang parents ang magdi-decide diyan (because it is the parents who will decide on that.” 

But Briones said they will “encourage them.

“Strict compliance” 

Mayor Duterte said that when schools reopen, they must ensure strict compliance with the minimum public health standards such as wearing of face masks and physical distancing, including those guidelines that will be issued by the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and other relevant government agencies.

“Following the decrease in the number of cases in the city as well as its active vaccination rollout, there is a need to bolster the reopening of schools for face-to-face classes to ensure continuity of academic instruction as we transition to the new normal,” it said.

Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan, a writer and a parent of two, said she is looking forward to sending her children back to school but added that she is wary because “we don’t really know if all these decisions by our leaders are influenced by the elections.”

“Before the election season, the Departments (government) were so stringent. In contrast, pag-abot gyud sa elections, suddenly nilu-ag ang tanan (When it comes to elections, restrictions suddenly eased). COVID-19 seems to be so cooperative with politics,” she said.

Former journalist Kristianne Marie Fusilero said she would feel at ease in face-to-face classes if the minimum public health standards are strictly enforced.

Fusilero has a nephew graduating from senior high school at the Philippine Women’s College and a niece who’s in grade 12 at the Philippine Science High School in the city.

Fusilero’s nephew, who has spent his last years in high school attending online classes, will enroll in college without seeing his teachers and classmates physically.

“As long as there are minimum health protocol standards, students can safely go back to have face-to-face classes. Students’ safety shall always be the top priority among schools,” she said.

Dr. Michelle Schlosser, spokesperson for Davao City COVID-19 Task Force, said in her program “COVID-19 Alert” on Wednesday that as of February 24, at least 1.3 million Dabawenyos out of its 1.8 million population have been fully vaccinated while 208,389 have received their booster shots and 100,000 received their first dose.

As of March 5, the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao reported eight new cases in the city, bringing total cases to 72,129 with 195 active, 69,984 recovered, and 1,950 dead.

With fewer cases of COVID-19 now, the city has been placed under the less restrictive Alert Level 1 from March 1 to 15. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)