(File photo)

Face-to-face classes should remain suspended, according to Senator Win Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

Aside from the latest COVID-19 surge, Gatchalian, who recently visited Palawan on a relief mission, noted that not all children over the age of 12 have been vaccinated against the fatal virus and that children aged 11 and under have yet to be vaccinated.

He also described the onslaught of typhoon Odette, which has added to the deadly pandemic, as a really tough time for the educational sector.

“Napaka-challenging ng sitwasyon natin ngayon. Bilang chairman ng education committee ay isa sa tinutulak natin ay mabuksan na ang mga paraalan at maibalik ang limited face-to-face classes. [Pero] sa Metro Manila ay nagkakaroon (ulit) ngayon ng surge, ibig sabihin kumakalat ang virus,” Gatchalian said, adding that it will expose students to danger.

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As long as COVID is a problem, he believes that even restricted face-to-face should be suspended to safeguard the welfare of children.

“Ang face-to-face sa tingin ko ay dapat i-suspend muna dahil ang 11 years old and below ay hindi pa nabakunahan. Ang 12 years old and above ay binabakunahan na ngayon. Para hindi delikado ay i-suspend muna ang limited face-to-face,” he said.

He also cited the situation in Palawan, which could be even more challenging for students and teachers now that typhoon Odette has devastated the province’s northern section, destroying numerous classrooms.

According to Gatchalian, they are putting together a list of the schools destroyed by Odette for repair and restoration.

“Dito sa Palawan, lalo na sa norte, ay marami sa paaralan ang nasira. May binigay nang listahan sa akin para makatulong tayo na irekomenda ang mga eskwelahan na ire-repair. Importante ‘yan dahil kahit na masuspend ang face to face classes ay tingin ko babalik ulit tayo hopefully sooner than later,” he added.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.