MORE than a hundred public schools will participate in the Education department’s two-month pilot test for physical classes in September once approved by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

The program which will be voluntary, will be held in areas that are not at risk of the coronavirus, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno A. Malaluan told a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Classes will have as many as 12 students for kindergarten, 16 for Grades 1 to 3 and 20 for senior high school. School hours will be shortened.

Some senators asked why there seemed to be no sense of urgency on the part of the Education department in slowly getting students back to the classrooms.

Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros-Baraquel noted that the Philippines was one of few countries that have yet to return to the classroom setup.

“That rollout is so slow and pathetic” she said at the hearing. “But we are really left behind,” she said in Filipino.

Mr. Malaluan said an inter-agency task force had approved the pilot test but Mr. Duterte had yet to approve it.

“Why does it seem like there’s no sense of urgency?” Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay-Angeles said.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, citing a Pulse Asia poll, said 62% of public school students wanted to go back to school. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan