By Ina Hernando-Malipot
Anticipating an upcoming school year that is far from being normal, the Department of Education (DepEd) turns to parents, guardians, and other community members for support to help ensure the success of its Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP).
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in a recent online press conference, laid out the LCP, which will be effective on the opening of classes for schoolyear (SY) 2020-2021 in August. “We have set Aug. 24 as school opening so we have have a goal to work on,” she explained. “If there will be adjustments that need to be done, we will do it,” she added.
Briones noted that the LCP is DepEd’s major response and commitment to “ensure the health, safety, and well-being of learners, teachers, and personnel in the time of COVID-19” while finding ways for education to continue amid the crisis for the upcoming school year.
“The implementation of the BE-LCP will be difficult,” Briones said.
“It is not a perfect plan,” she explained, noting that it is “not possible to have a perfect plan with so many unknowns and imponderables.”
While it has been completed, Briones noted that the LCP will need adjustments based on the needs of the schools, learners and teachers in a specific area.
“Operational complications can be expected along the way,” she admitted.
Since face-to-face conduct of classes may not be possible in many areas, Briones said DepEd is implementing distance learning and will adopt various learning delivery options.
These learning delivery options, Briones explained, may include “blended learnings, distance learnings, and homeschooling and other modes of delivery.”
These shall be implemented depending on the local COVID Risk Severity Classification and compliance with minimum health standards.
Preparing for the incoming schoolyear
As stated in the school calendar for SY 2020-2021, school opening for both public and private schools is set in August. Private schools may be allowed to open within the period provided by law or from June to August if they have met the requirements set by the DepEd, Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
For this year, DepEd has decided to cancel the conduct of curricular and co-curricular activities that are considered crowd drawers. Activities that are participated in by students and teachers will be allowed only if these are conducted via online platforms.
At this time, Briones noted that all efforts and initiatives to implement the LCP will “greatly depend” on family and community support. “We need to prepare not only the schools, learners, administrators, and teaching and non-teaching personnel, but also the parents or guardians of the learners,” she said.
Recognizing their crucial role, Briones said that there will be orientations and capacity building for parents and guardians “to prepare them for the new role or responsibilities that they will do.”
Briones said that DepEd also needs the support and partnership of the local government units (LGUs) to “maximize and align” their Special Education Fund in providing resources and assistance for the LCP. “We shall endeavor to have strong engagement by national government agencies, private organizations, and other stakeholders in contributing to educational needs, especially at this critical time,” she added.
Parents have the ‘final say’
Given the shift to various modes of learning delivery, Briones said that parents and guardians will play a very crucial and important role in the education of their children. “I seek 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,” Briones said.
Briones noted that DepEd officials and concerned personnel are “working non-stop” to find ways to ensure that education will continue amid the public health emergency.
“I cannot guarantee a 100-percent increase in quality but what I can guarantee is 100 to 200 percent effort that we are trying to meet the requirements needed—we’re doing what we can,” Briones said.
“At the end of the day, after we have given our explanations, the parents will have the final decision whether to allow their children to proceed,” she ended.