By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
In order to avoid further confusion among parents and learners, a congressman on May 27, Wednesday, asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide “clearer” information and details on the upcoming school opening.
Pasig Representative Roman Romulo, who is also the chairman of the House committee on basic education and culture, said that the leadership of DepEd should exert more effort on giving “clearer” information on the planned start of classes for School Year (SY) 2020-2021.
“Kailangan maliwanag ang DepEd, yung announcement nila na ang academic calendar will start on August 24 created confusion sa magulang at bata (DepEd needs to be clear, its announcement that the school calendar will start on August 24 created confusion among parents and learners),” Romulo told reporters via Zoom.
DepEd, Romulo added, also needs to explain further the “no vaccine, school opening” pronouncement of President Duterte.
“Sana naging malinaw ang komunikasyon ng DepEd noon pa lalo na yung sa pagsisimula ng academic calendar sa August kasi hindi naman lahat ng magulang, naiitindihan ang ibig sabihin nito (There should have been better communication especially when it comes to the start of academic calendar because not all parents fully understood what it means),” he added.
To get more updates on the school opening, Romulo said that an online meeting has been scheduled on May 28, Thursday, with DepEd key officials.
“Since April, I have been meeting with them,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“We have already presented to them all our proposals,” he added.
Romulo said that during the meeting this coming Thursday, he intends to bring up the utmost concerns of stakeholders, especially the parents on the safety and well-being of their child when classes start in August.
“In my office, we have been receiving various letters coming from parents and other stakeholders expressing their concerns on school opening, among others,” he said.
“The primordial concern really is the safety of the students,” he added.
In order to allay the fears of parents, teachers, and learners on the school opening, Romulo urged DepEd to make it clear that there will be no face-to-face classes.
“Ang dapat gawin ng DepEd ay simulan ng tamang mensahe sa publiko lalo na sa mga mga magulang para hindi nila ma-misinterpret yung announcements sa school opening (What the DepEd should do is to start by clearly conveying the message to the public, especially to the parents so they will not misinterpret the school opening announcements),” he said.
Meanwhile, Romulo expressed support to the efforts of DepEd to ensure that education will continue amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“Face-to-face classes are really too risky so the best way forward really is to implement alternative learning methods,” he said.
In Pasig, for instance, Romulo noted that they have been in constant communication with local DepEd officials on how to push through with the school opening without compromising the health and safety of both teachers and learners. He mentioned that the Pasig City government, as announced by Mayor Vico Sotto, is preparing to give public school students gadgets and other devices that they would need to online or attend virtual classes if conventional schooling will still not be possible by August.
“Para sa wala talagang access, tinitingnan din natin kung paano pwede i-deliver sa mga bahay yung mga printed na modules (For those that do not have access, we’re looking for ways on how to deliver printed modules to their houses),” Romulo said.
In order to decongest the curriculum, Romulo also urges DepEd to consider that for this coming school year, the modules for younger learners or those in Grades 1 to 3 should only focus on reading, writing, and mathematics.
DepEd, in a statement issued earlier, has already emphasized that the upcoming school opening “will not necessarily mean that teachers and learners will undergo the traditional in-classroom set-up by August this year.”
In its Basic Education—Learning Continuity Plan (LCP), which has been adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), it cited that the choice and contextualization of the learning delivery modality of schools will depend on the local COVID-19 situation as well as access to certain learning platforms.
“Even as we set policies in the central office, we will primarily consider local public health conditions in adjusting our LCP,” DepEd said.
“Preventive measures will be put in place to secure the health and well-being of our personnel and our learners under this new normal,” it added.