By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As its announcement of the school opening in August continues to draw mixed reactions from various stakeholders, the Department of Education (DepEd) maintained that the choice and contextualization of the learning delivery modality of schools will largely depend on the local COVID-19 situation, as well as access to certain learning platforms.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced earlier that the school opening for School Year (SY) 2020-2021 has been moved from June to August. Both public and private schools at basic education levels nationwide are enjoined to start classes on August 24—“either physically or virtually,” depending on local health situations.
In a separate statement, DepEd reiterated that classes for the upcoming school year, “will not necessarily mean that teachers and learners will undergo the traditional in-classroom set-up by August this year.”
Even as it sets policies in the Central Office, DepEd noted that it will “primarily consider local public health conditions” in adjusting its Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) thus, “preventive measures will be put in place” to ensure the health and well-being of both learners and its personnel.
LCP will be flexible; distance learning as ‘new normal’
Meanwhile, DepEd Undersecretary and Spokesperson Annalyn Sevilla, in an online post, noted that the LCP of DepEd will remain flexible and will be adjusted accordingly based on emerging situations and needs of schools, teachers, and learners.
Sevilla said that, in times of emergencies, “education has to adopt” a learning continuity plan that will allow use of various alternative delivery modes.
Such alternative delivery modes, she said, may include staggered and structured class scheduling, limited face-to-face interactions with mix of modular learning, and use of online platforms or home schooling. “In these times, distance learning is the new normal,” she added.
During education in emergencies, Sevilla noted that “there is no one-size-fits-all solution and instruction.” Despite this, she assured that DepEd will “provide the framework and guide on how to implement the LCP.”
With the LCP designed to be flexible, she explained that “choice and contextualization of the learning delivery modality will depend on the local COVID situation and access to learning platforms in the school/division/region.”
Expecting further disruptions in education as the public health crisis continues, Sevilla said that DepEd will continue it efforts to ensure that “education can still happen even during emergencies through distance learning.”
To make this happen, DepEd enjoins teachers and parents to become “frontliners” to ensure the learning continuity of millions of Filipino children.
Parents and guardians, who might continue to work from their homes, are expected to provide provide supervision of a routine and space for learning while at home. “They have to provide support and assurance that things will be better for the students to continue [to be] productive. Parents need to continually explain and secure what normalcy for students will look like,” she added.
Sevilla said that DepEd’s LCP, to be presented to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), will also include capacity building and orientation for teachers and parents or guardians in order to gradually shift to the new normal in education. “It is expected that challenges and birth pains will exist,” she said. “It will not be an easy transition, but if we work together as early as now, it [will not be] impossible,” she said.