While the planned pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes this month has been put on hold, the Department of Education (DepEd) said that preparations are still in place for the possible conduct of in-person classes in COVID-low risk areas once approved by the government.
“Currently, the department is preparing for this possibility by identifying schools and regions that will participate in the implementation concerning the required health and safety standards set by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force),” DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio said.
Last month, DepEd submitted to President Duterte its recommendation to conduct pilot implementation or dry-run of face-to-face classes in low-risk areas on a limited scale and under strict health and safety measures this January.
DepEd opened the School Year (SY) 2020-2021 last Oct. 5 under a distance learning setup. Despite major challenges that confront the department, students, teachers, and school leaders, DepEd said that this has, at the same time, presented new opportunities that will help the agency adapt to the future of education post-COVID-19.
In its recommendation dated Dec. 14, DepEd maintained “face-to-face classes remain a necessity for education,” citing the social aspect of learning,where students are able to interact with their teachers and classmates, which cannot be fully replaced by distance learning modalities.
DepEd said that under the current learning setup, the skills of students for “self-learning is uneven,” noting that household resources to assist children in the learning process are also uneven since these are affected various factors such as household income, education of household members, access to Internet, and number of children in the household needing to be assisted, among others.
Without more consistent instructional guidance by teachers, DepEd said that some students find “it difficult to learn by themselves and without household capacity for instructional support will be left behind.”
Since remote learning is in place, DepEd said that the time devoted for the learning process, without direct monitoring by teachers, also “differ vastly” across students and households.
Given these, DepEd said that allowing teachers to see their students face-to-face setting, even on an intermittent schedule, will “enable greater opportunities” to check on their learning progress and provide needed instructional supervision and interventions, if needed.