IT is barely a month and less than three weeks before the actual opening of classes which is scheduled by virtue of the existing laws on the opening of classes and as approved by the Office of the President and the IATF-EID on August 24, 2020. This early, the preparations before the actual day are in full swing with all factors, issues, and challenges being considered so that it will cushion the impact of the ‘new normal’ to be implemented due to the threat of the COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
DepEd Secretary Leonor M. Briones, in a recent online press conference, assured that opening of classes for SY 2020-2021 will push through as scheduled on August 24 and added that DepEd is preparing for a dry-run by the first week of August to demonstrate how blended learning will actually proceed.
Still, as of the moment, face-to-face conduct of classes is prohibited; Sec. Briones reiterated that DepEd has prepared different learning delivery modalities to suit every learner’s needs and capacity.
Briones also mentioned that distance learning and blended learning “have long been implemented” in the country’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) and as of the moment, DepEd is running a series of dry run simulations to ensure the efficiency of this modality, along with blended learning in selected schools in SDO Navotas in the National Capital Region (NCR) once applied in the public school system.
In a recent development, DepEd is working with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to assist the education sector in areas related to broadcast, connectivity, and digital security for the continued delivery of education amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in preparation for the opening of classes.
According to a report from DepEd, the department has requested DICT, under Secretary Gregorio Honasan II, and its attached agency National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for support in encouraging telecommunication companies to continue giving free access to DepEd Commons and other online platforms of the Department.
The partnership is also expected to initiate the allocation of free internet bandwidth to public schools and encourage various businesses that provide telecommunications services, community cable providers, and internet service providers (ISP) to do the same.
However, the Secretary is quick to say that while DepEd is working to improve access of learners and schools to the internet, online learning is only one option from the menu of learning delivery modalities to be used in the upcoming school year and emphasized that the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) of DepEd is not a one-size-fits-all policy.
As all DepEd Divisions in the country are doing, the modality to be used will be responsive in the context and available resources of the schools and the learners.
Moreover, the Department is also tapping DICT for assistance in providing physical security infrastructure or activity protocols to safeguard learners, teachers, and staff from any unwanted security breaches and exposure to harmful online content.
The move is relevant to the premise that with the advent of an immense exposure of our learners in the online community, we are seeking DICT’s assistance to avoid or totally limit access to sites relating to pornography, sex, violence, cybercrimes and other inappropriate material for our children.
The partnership is also seen to provide impact in the long term as DepEd is also eyeing to tap DICT for technical support for the Department’s Last Mile Schools Program through the augmentation of satellite capacity and the establishment of a fiber network connected to the far-flung schools.
This Corner hopes that with things are going, all efforts are expected to bring hope to learners that despite this pandemic, a bright future is still possible.