The Department of Education (DepEd) was urged by an advocacy group to allow private schools the discretion, upon consultation with parents, to continue blended learning for School Year (SY) 2022-2023.
“We go back to that adage, ‘parents know best,’” said Patrick Climaco, Secretary General of Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3), a group championing consumer rights, in a statement issued Friday, Aug. 19.
“We are aware that parents of these students have misgivings about a complete return to face-to-face mode, and that their reasons are perfectly valid and understandable,” he added.
Climaco noted that with the number of new Covid-19 cases on the rise and “no guarantee” that the measures undertaken by schools for a safe return, thus, “more flexibility is needed for schools to ensure the safest learning environment for students and their personnel.”
“Young children, specifically, have been so eager to go out of the confines of their homes and may not be as careful or mindful of health protocol,” he said.
Climaco also noted the health risks faced by teachers and administrators, especially since some of them may be older or may have co-morbidities and other health issues.
He explained that a regular classroom cannot accommodate 40 students and have them seated at safe distances.
“As it is the health of their children that are at risk, there must be consultation with parents. After all, it is the teachers, school officials and parents who know the situation firsthand. We must listen to them,” he added.
Based on the guidelines issued by DepEd, schools are allowed to implement alternative learning delivery modalities from Aug. 22 to Oct. 31. However, starting Nov. 2, all schools should have transitioned to five days of in-person classes.
Earlier, the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) also pushed for the option to continue providing blended learning.
Among the reasons cited include the continued threat posed by Covid-19, the state of public transportation, to the disparate capacities of schools, in terms of facilities, to receive returning students.
Climaco pointed out that in a crucial matter such as the balancing of education and health priorities, “flexibility and openness are key.”
While the ideal scenario is for all children to be able to go to their schools just the way they did before the pandemic, he noted that not all schools have the capacity to ensure physical distancing and other safety measures.
“This may simply contribute to parents’ anxieties about their children rejoining an outside world that is a little more unsafe,” Climaco said.
In the past years, Climaco said some private schools have shown their ability to effectively deliver education through various online and offline methods.
“Why should we abandon the alternative teaching methods we adapted during the pandemic, when we have learned that an effective hybrid method is possible even outside the four walls of the classroom?” he added.