THE Department of Education (DepEd) has issued an order reminding public schools and its personnel that the conduct of Christmas parties is “voluntary.”

In DepEd Order 052, which was issued on December 2, the agency said the holding of Christmas parties, themes, costumes, decoration and exchange gift are “voluntary,” noting that no learners of DepEd personnel should be forced to contribute, participate or bring out money from their pocket for the celebration.

The agency also reminded that solicitations, whether in cash or in kind, are not allowed for Christmas parties or holiday celebrations.

“No learner shall be excluded from joining Christmas celebration by reason of their failure to give the voluntary contribution or absence of a prepared gift,” read the order.

“Celebrations in schools and in DepEd offices, as far as practiceable, should be simple yet meaningful. Christmas party themes should not result to expenses that will become a burden on parents, students and DepEd personnel,” it added.

The agency encouraged the use of recyclable materials as Christmas decors, noting that learners and DepEd personnel are not required to make decors specifically for a party.

Scheduling Christmas parties should also not interfere with the scheduled lesson plans for the students nor compromise the provision of department services, the DepEd said.

“Gift-giving should be guided by the spirit of sharing and should not lead to extravagant spending,” it said.

DepEd said school division offices may issue additional guidelines based on their local customs and traditions provided that it will not deviate from the guidelines stipulated under Order 052.

Private schools, community learning centers, as well as state/local universities and colleges may also adopt the provisions of the DepEd Order 052. (SunStar Philippines)