Vico Sotto: We can’t let public school students get left behind

JC Gotinga

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Vico Sotto: We can’t let public school students get left behind
The Pasig mayor says whether or not physical classes resume, the city is 'identifying funds' for personal learning devices for public school students

MANILA, Philippines – The Pasig City government is preparing to give public school students what they would need to attend virtual classes, whether or not conventional schooling resumes during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mayor Vico Sotto on Tuesday, May 26.

“Ano man ang mangyari, hindi natin puwede hayaan na mahuli ang mga mag-aaral natin sa pampublikong paaralan,” Sotto said on his official Facebook page. (Whatever happens, we cannot let our public school students get left behind.)

Sotto said this in a caption to a news image quoting President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement from Monday night, May 25: “It is useless to be talking about opening of classes. Para sa akin, bakuna muna (For me, it’s vaccination first).”

The Pasig mayor said the city government is working with the Department of Education (DepEd) on either of the possibilities for students – a resumption of physical classes or a shift to virtual classes.

“In case of [virtual classes], we are preparing better internet connections at the barangay level where students can download the modules,” Sotto said.

Either way, the Pasig government is “identifying funds” for personal learning devices for students, Sotto added.

How about the poor students?

The DepEd earlier said it would prepare modules that students can download online, as a way to continue their schooling if the pandemic continues to prevent the resumption of face-to-face classes.

Laptops, tablets, and smartphones are among devices students can use to download and use those modules.

This raises the problem of internet connectivity – many poor students of public schools have no access to the internet or devices with which to download the school modules.

The DepEd pegged the resumption of classes on August 24. Schools in areas with low numbers of coronavirus cases may conduct physical classes. Otherwise, classes will be held virtually.

In a virtual media briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s aversion was to face-to-face classes. Schools may resort to virtual classes if the pandemic has not been contained by August 24.

Poor students in barangays with no internet access may attend classes through TV or radio sets in barangay centers – with physical distancing, Roque said.

Contradicting Duterte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told a Senate panel on Tuesday that it would be “safe” to resume classes on August 24 as long as health protocols are observed. –

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.