By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Amid fears and uncertainties due to the COVID-19 crisis, Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Monday assured that the Department of Education (DepEd) will not formulate and implement policies that would compromise the health, safety, and welfare of learners and personnel.
“I acknowledge the fears and apprehensions of our learners, parents and teachers, that attending schools in August might still not be safe in light of COVID-19,” Briones said in an online press briefing.
As she acknowledges those who have expressed “full faith and support” for agency, Briones assured that DepEd will implement a “safe back to schools program” which will consist of health standards that will ensure the safety of everyone in areas that will already allow physical attendance in schools.
“I would like to assure everyone, as I have presented to the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force], that we will observe all the guidelines of the DOH [Department of Health] and the IATF, on whether the risks classification in a locality will allow face-to-face attendance in schools, or not,” she added.
Distance learning is key
Given the anticipated disruptions in face-to-face holding of classes and the need for social distancing, Briones said that distance learning will be a “major component” of learning delivery for the incoming school year.
“I similarly acknowledge the fears and apprehensions of our learners, parents and teachers, that we might not be ready for distance learning, with issues about access to online platforms and availability of gadgets,” Briones explained. “I assure everyone that we are working double time to ready our system, at the central and field units, to deliver accessible and quality distance education,” she added.
As education becomes a “more shared responsibility” due to the changes in the learning environment brought about by the pandemic, Briones seeks the cooperation of all to “have an open mind, and to allow us the opportunity over the next three months, to fully orient and inform everyone how this will be done.” School opening for SY 2020-2021 was moved from June 1 to August 24 this year.
Briones explained that schools and Community Learning Centers (CLCs) under the supervision of the Regional and Division Offices are “authorized to decide on the specific learning delivery modalities”
These may include blended and online learning delivery modes through the Learning Resources portal and DepEd Commons; use of TV and radio; and learning modules and packets both in print and digital format; or whichever that “may be deemed appropriate in their context.”
Anticipating that its Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) will need adjustments along the way, DepEd seeks the “understanding, support, and solidarity of our DepEd family and all our stakeholders, in true spirit of unity and ‘bayanihan’ or mutual help” this early.