By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A group promoting children’s rights and welfare urged the Department of Education (DepEd) as well as the local government units (LGUs) to come up with comprehensive plans that would ensure remote learning for students who miss out on school due to the continued threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
While LGUs implement precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19, Save the Children Philippines (SCP) Chief Executive Officer Atty. Albert Muyot said that “these measures must be implemented with the best interest of the child in mind.”
Muyot, who is also a former Undersecretary of DepEd, also called on the Department of Education and LGUs to “implement comprehensive plans to enable remote learning for students who miss out on school” and “ensure children will have access to appropriate care such as routine healthcare services in the event an adult caregiver requires hospitalization.”
Save the Children is currently conducting online consultations with children in resettlement sites in Pasay, Tanay, Rizal and Naic, Cavite to understand how mitigation measures such as class suspensions, community quarantine, and physical distancing are affecting their lives.
Meanwhile, DepEd assured that “contingency measures” as a response to impact of class suspension due to COVID-19 are in place.
DepEd said it has already “provided alternative learning delivery platforms” as response to class suspension, as stated in DM No. 42, s. 2020.
“We highly encouraged teachers with available resources and access to the internet to explore the Online Alternative Learning Delivery Platforms identified by the DepEd ICTS that may be used for delivering distance learning during periods of class suspensions and similar circumstances,” the department noted.
The Office of the Undersecretary for Administration and ICTS has provided guides for the use of these platforms such as “DepEd Commons.” Since its inception last March 17, a total of a total of 446,787 teachers have joined the said online platform, gaining support and praise from teachers as well as parents.
“However, given that not everyone has access to a stable internet connection, online classes are only given as an option for those who have access to such medium,” DepEd said. “We have always looked into the circumstances of our teachers and learners in these pressing times,” it added.
Likewise, DepEd said that it has also taken the situation as an “opportunity to strengthen the use of online tools” such as the Certificate Generator which was developed initially at the Division of Olongapo City has now has 9,194 users; the Grading Template proposed for schools where exams have been suspended now has 30,584 users; and the Learner Information System (LIS) with over 119,000 daily users.