By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As the country grapples with the increasing number of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, the Department of Education (DepEd) is racing against time to ensure that the required learning competencies are completed by the learners for the current school year.
DepEd said in a statement that it has come up with directives for “all DepEd schools to follow” amid class suspensions declared in areas with confirmed cases of the COVID-19, particularly in Metro Manila and other provinces.
With the end of the current school year 2019-2020 just a few weeks away, DepEd instructed public schools to implement several measures to ensure that required learning competencies are achieved by learners across all basic education levels.
Should the public health situation prevent coming to school, DepEd said that it “shall issue a guideline for the evaluation of the final grades of all learners.”
DepEd also gave the assurance that it will “continue to closely monitor the situation and shall continue to take informed, coordinated and proportionate decisions” in close consultation with Department of Health (DOH) and other members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the matter, to “contribute to meeting the challenge of containing and managing COVID-19.”
DepEd said its executive committee has already discussed the implementation of the school suspension in the National Capital Region (NCR) from March 10 to 14 as declared by President Duterte.
The officials of DepEd also tackled “broader options” in light of the latest developments and information on COVID-19, as well as its assessment of the remaining school requirements for this school year.
The department has also decided to adopt “social distancing measures” for DepEd schools effective for the remainder of the school year.
DepEd said the school year is “already about to end,” with only final examinations left. “Our feedback from the field is that the essential competencies specified in the curriculum are expected to have been covered,” DepEd noted.
Revised dates for exams, activities
Based on the school calendar, the 4th quarter examinations for the graduating levels of Grades 6 and 12 are scheduled on March 12 to 13 while the 4th quarter examinations for all other grade levels are scheduled on March 19 to 20.
DepEd noted that the President’s suspension of classes this week in NCR constitutes a “social distancing measure” intended to mitigate or slow down community transmission.
Given these considerations, DepEd directed affected schools to adjust their activities in the coming weeks. For instance, in NCR, all teachers with the supervision of the Regional, Schools Division and School officials were directed to “schedule all remaining 4th quarter examinations in the week of March 16 to 20 on a staggered basis to reduce the number of students in the school per day.”
Teachers, DepEd said, shall “communicate with their students on pointers for review for examination and may opt to work from home.” Students, it added, shall “come to school next week (March 16 to 20) on the day of their respective examination schedules.”
Outside NCR, DepEd noted that all teachers shall schedule on March 11 to 13 any 4th quarter examinations already scheduled, or to catch up with all remaining class requirements, and to schedule all remaining 4th quarter examinations for the week of March 16 to 20 on similar staggered basis.
DepEd noted that after the 4th quarter examinations are conducted, “any further school requirements shall as far as practicable be done as home-based assignments” while “any compelling need to come to school shall observe all applicable COVID-19 precautions.”
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said this social distancing measure for schools “will only be effective” if students, parents, and the local governments will “do their part” to ensure that students avoid places like malls, movie houses, markets, and similar crowded places to minimize the risk of being infected with the virus.