WITH the Department of Education’s (DepEd’s) announcement of opening the classes in August, the 19th City Council urged DepEd to immediately issue guidelines for the accreditation and licensing of homeschool providers and other compliance measures regarding the homeschool program.

Councilor Antoinette Principe-Castrodes on Tuesday, May 26, said in a resolution she filed that DepEd should ensure access to quality, affordable and reliable homeschooling since physical or face-to-face classroom setup is still highly discouraged amid the ongoing threat of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Principe-Castrodes said the opening of classes on August 24 by adapting to the “new normal” has caused concern from parents and guardians.

“While we welcome the strategies and technologies that DepEd are putting in place to make sure that the learner’s health is not put in jeopardy as we all strive to keep deploying education amid the pandemic, we feel that DepEd can still go further,” the councilor said.

She added, “In light of the situation where it is nor safe yet for students to attend physical classes and where students are not yet ready for online education, it seems that the more logical option for parents and guardians is to sign up for homeschooling”.

The resolution also urges DepEd to give authority to its regional offices to process applications for homeschooling within their jurisdictions to expedite the process.

Principe-Castrodes said that while there are already some homeschooled children in the city, she said there has yet to be Davao-based accredited homeschool provider.

She also said parents have to connect with accredited homeschool providers based in Manila or abroad, but these could only offer limited slots.

“Cumbersome processes for accreditation, high cost of securing permits and long waiting time may have hindered the establishment of more licensed homeschools in Davao Region and in fact, in many regions in the country,” Principe-Castrodes said.

The councilor also raised the alarming proliferation of homeschool providers without permits, often fly-by-night, taking advantage of its high demand that may pose danger to both students and their families.

“DepEd needs to look closer into the issue of accrediting and monitoring homeschool providers,” Principe-Castrodes said.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, in a previous report, said she has encouraged schools to push through with the opening of classes this year through home school and distant learning.

However, she said, as per DepEd Davao assistant director Maria Ines Asuncion, the opening of classes will not be in a physical setting, and that schools are discouraged from doing so.

“While the opening of the classes will generally start in August, we will not allow students and teachers to report to the school. We will implement the online, offline, and homeschooling program,” Duterte-Carpio said, quoting the online message of Asuncion in a radio interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.

Recently, the City Council also passed a resolution requesting schools and universities in the city to defer the increase in tuition for the school year 2020 to 2021.

Councilor Louie John Bonguyan, the proponent of the resolution, said the item aims to help students and their families who are currently struggling with the pandemic effect of Covid-19.