By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As it continues to receive mixed reactions on the start of a new school year in August, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday maintained that the school opening needs to push through to ensure that the education of Filipino learners will not be further disrupted.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones
(DepEd / MANILA BULLETIN)
In an online press briefing led by Education Secretary Leonor Briones along with Undersecretaries Annalyn Sevilla and Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan, the DepEd key officials discussed concerns on school opening and the alternative learning modalities.
Briones said that the DepEd is aware of the calls to suspend the opening of classes this coming August 24 due to the continued threat of COVID-19. “But what other options do we have? We have to go on because education must continue,” she added.
Briones said that the health and safety of learners and teachers remain the “utmost consideration” of DepEd.
The earlier pronouncement of President Duterte on “no vaccine, no school opening” led to confusion among stakeholders - including parents, teachers and learners.
“We don’t have confusion with President’s direction - there’s no conflict because we share the same position against face-to-face conduct of classes,” Briones clarified.
“We’re preparing for non face-to-face school opening,” Briones explained.
“We are offering a wide array of options so that children can continue schooling while waiting for a vaccine which is still being developed in other parts of the world because we want to ensure that education will continue,” she added.
Briones noted that there is a “lag time” when the vaccine will be available.
“We’re now focusing on alternatives, we cannot be waiting exclusively for the vaccine because schools in other parts of the world have opened classes already, we don’t want them to be left behind,” she added.
Adjustments in the ‘new normal’
Sevilla noted that DepEd will also conduct “remote enrollment” this coming June.
“What we want to do is to conduct a remote enrollment which means that the students will be contacted by the teachers or their previous advisers,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Malaluan explained that DepEd is currently preparing for the operationalization of the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP). He added that the regional offices are also “contextualizing the LCP” in an effort to ensure that the learning modalities that will be used will be cater to the needs of their learners.
With the new learning modalities to be rolled out this coming school year, Briones underscored the need for teachers to be trained.
“We’re in the same boat, I’m also spending time to learn these new things,” she said.
“One of the intentions why we’re asking them to report back to work starting June 1 is for them to can upskill through training and capacity building programs,” she added.
Briones noted that the existing learning modalities such as distant/blending learning, online learning, education through TV and radio “are not really new” since these have been available for the longest time.
“Technology, for instance, is not new normal, perhaps, the ‘new normal’ is the way all these things are blended together to achieve maximum results and we all the cooperation of all to make it work,” she said.
While options are laid out by DepEd, Briones stressed that the final decision - whether to enroll the children or not - depends on the parents.
“The parents will decide whether they will keep their children for several months at home or take advantage of what the DepEd offers so the education of their children will continue,” she ended.