By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A teachers group on Monday urged the government to ensure the safety of learners and school personnel first before it pushes through with the opening of classes for the coming school year (SY) 2020-2021.
“The planned opening of classes by August, whether physical or online should consider both the safety of the learners, teachers, and everyone involved in school operation as well as the accessibility of children’s family to needed gadgets and internet connectivity,” said Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) national chairperson Benjo Basas.
As the Department of Education (DepEd) eyes multi-modal approaches to education, TDC urged the agency to consider equity issues and additional requirements, especially when it comes to distance or online learning.
“The government may need to spend for the required technology to enable the distant learning,” Basas said. “Other modes of delivery such as radio and television guided by learning modules may also be used.”
Basas noted that while the DepEd gives the assurance that there will be a strict observance of precautionary measures when physical interaction may be necessary, the “scientific assessment of health experts should be the main consideration once it decides to reopen the classes in August, September, or even beyond.”
Aside from the school opening, TDC also raised the concern of some teachers on the readiness for online tasks, which are being required of them at the peak of the crisis like the online reading of forms, webinars, and development of modules, among others. “Clearly, the situation does not allow our teachers and the people in general to focus on such kind of activities,” Basas said.
Recommendation on school opening
The DepEd is scheduled to present its recommendation on school opening to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) this May. DepEd’s recommendation will be submitted by Education Secretary Leonor Briones, which includes the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) of DepEd for school year (SY) 2020-2021.
Undersecretary and spokesperson Annalyn Sevilla said that when schools open in the coming school year, health protocols would be strictly followed to ensure the safety and welfare of students and teachers.
“When we say opening of the school, it does not mean we will be asking the teachers and the students to physically report to school,” Sevilla explained, noting that school opening could happen even if teachers and students stay at their homes. “We are preparing modules so face-to-face interaction would be at a minimum.”