Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday urged the government to include public school teachers in the prioritized groups that would benefit in the COVID-19 vaccination program, together with non-teaching staff and school administrators.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said prioritizing teachers in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is a crucial step to ensure the safety of school premises and in building confidence for the gradual resumption of face-to-face classes.
“Dahil ang mga guro, mga punong-guro, at kawani ng mga paaralan ay nagsisilbing mga frontliners sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon, nararapat lamang na mabilang sila sa mga unang makakatanggap ng bakuna laban sa COVID-19 (because teachers, principals and school administrators serve as frontliners to ensure continuity of education, it is only fitting that they are the first to receive this vaccine against COVID-19),” Gatchalian said in a statement.
Since the pandemic struck, Gatchalian noted that the country’s more than 900,000 teachers and non-teaching staff have been serving as frontliners to ensure learning continuity for more than 22 million learners.
But despite the social restrictions imposed by the National Task Force Against COVID-19, the senator stressed the need for schools to reopen as soon as possible to prevent an exacerbation of the learning crisis hounding the country.
The lawmaker pointed out the Philippines is lagging globally and failing to master basic competencies as shown in global assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2019, and the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) 2019.
All of these international student assessment tests, he said, were administered before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gatchalian recalled that when teachers were preparing for the implementation of distance learning, they distributed learning materials used by almost 87 percent of public school learners even at the risk of their health and safety.
“Mahalagang hakbang ito upang matiyak nating ang pagbabalik n gating mga magaaral sa mga paaralan ay magiging ligtas (This is a crucial step for us to ensure that the resumption of classes in schools will be safe),” he said.
The Department of Education (DepEd) is already bracing for a dry run of limited and localized face-to-face classes in selected schools ahead of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
However, Gatchalian reiterated the need to strictly observe health protocols such as physical distancing, wearing of face masks and regular hand washing to protect students against the threat of the coronavirus despite the possibility of starting limited face-to-face classes.

Source: Manila Bulletin (