Recognizing the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on education, the Department of Education (DepEd) is eyeing to develop a policy on the learning environment post-COVID.
“We are trying to learn more things, more information about this going back to school,” DepEd Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma for Field Operations and National Academy of Sports said in a statement issued Friday, Dec. 17.
“We would like to see what are the value-added of going back to school for our children, especially the smaller one as they were at home already for the past years and we want to see that they learn better if they go back to school,” he added.
The policy on the learning environment post-pandemic, DepEd said, will highlight new standards in the organization of class in the Philippines.
This include class programs, time, allotment, pupil ratio, learning resources, learners’ support for instruction management, and mental health services.
After implementing distance learning for almost two years, DepEd has started the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes in basic education on Nov. 15.
Initially, the pilot implementation covers only 120 schools. However, DepEd has allowed other schools to hold pilot face-to-face classes as long as they received approval from the agency and the Department of Health (DOH).
DepEd is planning to expand the conduct of face-to-face classes by next year.
Meanwhile, the members of the Philippine Forum for Quality Basic Education (Educ Forum) also offered valuable insights on school operational strategies and preparations as DepEd implements pilot face-to-face classes.
Educ Forum partners from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) noted some crucial points in the success of opening schools in different countries.
These include as social distancing, wearing of masks, investment in WASH facilities, disinfection, sanitation, vaccination of teachers and parents, random and regular testing, and having smaller class sizes and groups, utilizing technology, focusing on marginalized and advantaged learners and families, and continued support and services for learners.
Jessica Sutter of the District of Columbia State Board Education underscored the need to utilize different channels of communication in the campaigns, given that information changes at a very rapid rate.
Dr. Natasha Yvette Ridge of Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research in UAE, on the other hand, underscored that training, supporting, and investing in teachers is a critical path out of the pandemic.
Dr. Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director of Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) also recommended the following agenda for basic education: support for teachers and learners, COVID-19 prevention, monitoring guidelines, addressing learning gaps, and recovery fund.
“We must deepen resilience in education system to respond to the challenges brought by the pandemic,” Pascua-Valenzuela said.
“We must foster an educational environment that continues to address the needs of marginalized and most vulnerable members of the Southeast Asian education system,” she added.