A nationwide program for learning recovery and health care measures should be integrated into the country’s basic education which will finally implement full face-to-face classes in public schools by Wednesday.

In a news release on Tuesday, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said his Senate Bill No. 155, or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Act, will include well-systematized tutorial sessions and well-designed remediation plans.

It targets learners who did not enroll in School Year 2020-2021 when the pandemic began, are lagging academically, and are at or marginally above the minimum level of mastery required in Language, Mathematics, and Science.

He also asked the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Education (DepEd) to make sure teachers and learners are protected against Covid-19 and other illnesses.

Data from the DOH National Vaccination Operations Center showed that as of August, only 26.94 percent of children aged 5 to 11 and 76.41 percent in the 12 to 17 group are fully vaccinated.

“Matapos ang mahigit dalawang taon ng paghihintay, sa wakas ay masasaksihan na natin ang pagbabalik ng lahat ng mga mag-aaral sa face-to-face classes. Kasabay nito, dapat nating tiyakin ang kanilang kaligtasan, pati na ng kanilang mga guro (After more than two years of waiting, we will now witness the return to face-to-face classes. We must ensure the safety of learners and teachers),” said Gatchalian, chair of the Committee on Basic Education.

He called on the DOH and DepEd to ensure maximum vaccination coverage among teachers and learners aside from strict health protocols such as the installation of handwashing and adequate sanitation facilities and school-based vaccination.

The lack of face-to-face classes for one year would cost the economy PHP11 trillion in productivity losses in the next 40 years, based on the study of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Private schools still have the option to conduct blended learning. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)

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