NOW it can be told.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed last Saturday that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has approved the new school calendar moving the opening of classes to August because of the coronavirus pandemic as earlier proposed by the Department of Education. Private schools, Roque mentioned, may opt to start earlier but face to face classes must wait until August 24.
Roque also said that extra-curricular activities like school sports, campus journalism, and job fairs- events that gather big crowds- are canceled in the coming school year.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones announced earlier that the department has recommended to IATF that the school opening for School Year (SY) 2020-2021 be moved from June to August 24 for both public and private schools at basic education levels nationwide “either physically or virtually,” depending on the health situations in a particular locality.
Briones in other interviews conducted by government-owned PTV Channel 4 simulcast to leading TV and radio stations and played live in the official FB page of DepEd Philippines reiterated that classes for the upcoming school year will not necessarily mean that teachers and learners will undergo the traditional in-classroom set-up by August this year.
Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla in an official post in her Office FB Page said that, in times of emergencies, “education has to adopt” a learning continuity plan that will allow the use of various alternative delivery modes.
Such alternative delivery modes, she said, may include staggered and structured class scheduling, limited face-to-face interactions with a mix of modular learning, and use of online platforms or homeschooling. She emphasized that in these times, distance learning is the new normal.
During education in emergencies, Sevilla noted that “there is no one-size-fits-all solution and instruction.” Despite this, she assured that DepEd will “provide the framework and guide on how to implement the LCP.”
With the LCP designed to be flexible, she explained that “choice and contextualization of the learning delivery modality will depend on the local COVID situation and access to learning platforms in the school/division/region.”
Sevilla said that DepEd will continue its efforts to ensure that education can still happen even during emergencies through distance learning as it is expected that there are further disruptions in education as the public health crisis continues.
In order to realize this, DepEd expects teachers and parents to become “frontliners” to ensure the learning continuity of millions of Filipino children. They have to explain to their learners/sons or daughters the current situation we now call a new normal. Teachers are now currently being given with orientation and training to capacitate them to meet the demands of the times.
Lastly, DepEd expects that challenges and birth pains will exist as it will not be an easy transition, but if we work together as early as now, it will not be impossible.
This Corner hopes that all stakeholders in education will do their part to provide needed support to our learners as they braced a situation totally different from what we used to have before and as close as February this year.