“Ease not freeze.”
This is the stand of the Department of Education (DepEd) amid renewed calls for the implementation of an “academic freeze” or cancelling the school year in the formal education system.
DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio, in an interview with ANC’s Matters of Fact on Wednesday, reiterated the position of the agency: education must continue even during the emergency.
“I think the stand of the Department of Education is so clear,” San Antonio said. “We want the youngsters of our generation to be able to learn because we know, world studies are clear, the moment we stop – I mean the provision of basic education services for our learners – will have a massive impact in their lives economically – their capacity to earn is affected,” he added.
Before DepEd opened the school year 2020-2021 on Oct. 5, various quarters have been calling for an academic freeze due to the COVID-19 situation in the country and problems related to the implementation of distance/blended learning.
DepEd has dismissed these calls – noting that the agency has been preparing for the school opening for months already.
DepEd said that adjustments have been made to ensure that millions of students enrolled at the basic education level will continue learning even if the conduct of face-to-face classes is not yet allowed.
However, calls for the implementation of an academic freeze has resurfaced in the aftermath of the recent typhoons that ravaged the country.
Teachers, students, and other youth groups have also been calling for an academic break as the country grapples with the effects of the calamities.
Despite these calls, San Antonio maintained that DepEd there is no need for large-scale or nationwide academic freeze since schools have already been instructed to implement “academic ease” measures.
“We can’t afford to withdraw the opportunity of our youngsters to be able to learn,” San Antonio said.
“We will make this available [and] we will also continue to make it flexible and we will make adjustments, mindful of the idea that we will enable the child to really learn the most foundational skills – the most essential ones that they will find useful later in their lives,” he added.
Currently, San Antonio said that thousands of schools in parts of Luzon are already implementing academic break after the onslaught of Super Typhoon “Rolly” and Typhoon “Ulysses.”
In areas where learning is not possible because of the calamity, San Antonio said that “there are class suspensions” declared by the local executives.
The DepEd Region IV-A (CALABARZON), for instance, has declared suspension of classes and other related distance learning activities this week.
In particular, isolated classes are enforced in Antipolo City and in some areas in Rizal from Monday, Nov. 16 until Friday, Nov. 20.
There are also class suspensions in the National Capital Region (NCR) depending on the announcement of local executives.
DepEd NCR said that suspension of the conduct of Distance Learning activities – either online or modular- will only happen in areas where LGUs will declare suspension of classes on Nov. 16 and thereafter.
Marikina City has declared a month-long suspension of classes starting Nov. 16 to Dec. 16, 2020.
DepEd said that the Schools Division Office Marikina is already preparing the “catch-up plan” with the assistance of the Central Office.