To keep students from experiencing "social trauma" due to their physical separation from peers during the pandemic, the Department of Education-National Capital Region (DepEd-NCR) chief said he will propose that Metro Manila students be allowed to go on brief school visits once the region is placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
DepEd-NCR Director Malcolm Garma, a member of the regional coronavirus task force, said he will propose this to the government, but only for Metro Manila schools.
"'Yung mga bata nakikita ko sa mga bahay nagiging mahiyain. Nandoon sila sa sulok. Lagi nilang sinasabi na gusto na nila makita ang classmates nila.... Ayaw ko mangyari sana na itong henerasyon na ito ng mga bata magka-social trauma dahil hindi na sila nakalalabas. Sana mapag-isipan natin ito," Garma said during NCR's launch of school opening on Friday, October 2.
(I've seen kids who are at home becoming shy. They're just in one corner. They'd always say that they want to see their classmates. I just don't want this generation of children to have social trauma because they cannot go out. I hope we really think about this.)
Garma said his proposal is for the school visit to be done in batches, where students will meet their peers and teachers.
"Hindi naman sila magkaklase. Dadalhin lang natin sila sa school, mag-a-activity sila, maglalaro tapos after two hours babalik na sila sa bahay (They won't hold classes. They will be brought to school, have activities, play, and after tw hours, they will go back home)," Garma said.
The students are expected to strictly comply with health protocols during the school visits.
Experts have repeatedly warned that the public must remain cautious and continue observing minimum health standards such as practicing social distancing, wearing of face masks, and staying at home if possible, despite relaxation of quarantine measures.
Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine (GCQ) until October 31.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a televised briefing on Thursday that the shift of virus epicenter Metro Manila to MGCQ by November is "not an impossibility" considering the decline in the number of COVID-19 cases reported daily. (READ: DOH: Pay attention to active cases, not cumulative count in coronavirus ranking)
DepEd shifted to distance learning for the coming school year to comply with President Rodrigo Duterte's directive for schools to delay face-to-face classes until a coronavirus vaccine becomes available. Local experts said that in a best case scenario, the earliest that the country could access a vaccine is the second quarter of 2021.
As of Friday, the Philippines still has the most number of COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia at 316,678 cases, despite having the longest lockdowns in the world. Of the total cases, 56,445 are active.