DepEd urges UP experts not to pre-empt decision on school opening

Published April 22, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

So as not to “pre-empt” the decision on opening of classes for schoolyear (SY) 2020-2021, the the Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday urged experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) to “engage and consult” them first.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones (DepEd / MANILA BULLETIN)
Education Secretary Leonor Briones

“We hope the UP experts will engage DepEd on this,” said DepEd undersecretary and spokesperson Nepomuceno Malaluan after UP has recommended to President Duterte the suspension of classes until the end of the year to help curb spread of COVID-19.

The opening of classes, Malaluan said, “is under deliberation and consultation within DepEd and with partners.” He added that DepEd has been working on a Learning Continuity Plan (LCP), which covers schedule of school opening, the conduct of the school year, especially when it comes to addressing possible disruptions, and putting into priority the health, safety, and well-being of both learners and teachers.

“We are looking closely at facts and evidence, including theirs,” Malaluan said. “We hope the UP experts would not pre-empt this decision without even checking with [the] department,” he added.
Earlier, UP experts led by disaster response expert Mahar Lagmay, recommended that if classes would remain suspended until December 2020, there would be a bigger reduction in the transmission of the novel coronavirus. The UP Pandemic Response Team represented by Lagmay was present during Duterte’s consultation with experts on April 20.

No final decision on school opening yet
While there has been no final decision yet on the opening of classes in the coming school year, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said initial response coming from its own experts and other stakeholders show that the preferred date of school opening is on August instead of June.

“In order to provide an appropriate answer on the issue of the school opening for SY 2020-2021, DepEd has been conducting consultations for the past two weeks, with its executive committee, management committee, civil society, business sector, and education experts,” Briones said. “Parents and learners also expressed their views on Facebook, and other forms of social media,” she added.

Briones noted that the the “law provides that school opening shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August” and the “responses favor any day in August as the preferred opening of the school year.”

In the meantime, Briones said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is “seriously considering recommendations” to the President on the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

“All these factors will influence our final choice for the opening of the schoolyear,” Briones said. To date, she noted that the DepEd is accelerating the preparation of LCP to ensure that learning continues.

“It will be recalled that at the height of the Marawi uprising, our call was ‘education must continue! [And] in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, our call remains the same: Education must continue whether face-to-face or virtual, with or without physically going to school,” Briones said.

Aside from preparing the LCP, Briones said that DepEd is also “preparing benefits for our teaching and non-teaching staff, ensuring the readiness and cleanliness of our school infrastructure, and developing alternative delivery modes of learning.”

Meanwhile, DepEd has completed its national survey online on the opening of classes for SY 2020-2021 on April 21. DepEd said it has received a total of 833,460 responses in the survey, which covered not only the school opening but also matters related to social distancing; and online classes, cellphone, television or radio as alternative or complementary approaches to learning.

DepEd assured these responses will be taken into consideration as “we work on policies to ensure the delivery of quality basic education to every Filipino learner despite the current health situation.”

As its key officials continue to deliberate on the school opening, Briones assured learners, parents, teachers, and the general public that “any decision we will make for the continuation of learning will have their health, safety, and wellbeing as primary consideration.”