Gatchalian opposes nationwide academic break, says class suspension up to schools

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) - The head of the Senate's committee on basic education on Monday opposed calls for a nationwide academic break amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying schools can decide on the suspensions of classes on their own.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian noted that different areas in the country are under different quarantine status and not all areas have a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"I don't agree with the call to implement a nationwide academic break. Iba-iba naman ang quarantine qualification at may mga lugar na walang lockdown (There are different quarantine qualification in place and there are areas without lockdown being implemented),” said Gatchalian in a statement.

“Mahirap naman pong mag-academic freeze sa isang lugar na walang kaso ng COVID-19. Kaya hindi pwede itong academic freeze para sa pangkalahatan dahil iba-iba ang sitwasyon," he added.

[Translation: It’s difficult to have an academic freeze in a place where there is no COVID-19. That’s why having a nationwide academic freeze is not recommended because each areas have different situation.]

Gatchalian said that distance learning can still continue in areas under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ.

The senator also said that prolonged breaks might lead to “learning loss, widening inequalities, and increase exposure to violence.” He reiterated that students from poor families would only be left behind if an academic freeze happens.

"Sa basic education, isang taon nang hindi nagpupunta sa mga eskwelahan ang mga bata at kapag sila ay patuloy na bibigyan ng break at hindi sila mag-aaral, talagang makakalimutan na nila ang kanilang pinag-aralan," said Gatchalian.

[Translation: In basic education, it’s been a year that students don’t attend classes in schools and if they will be given more breaks, they will forget what they learned.]

Some universities in the country like the University of Santo Tomas and De La Salle University have recently suspended classes amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.