In line with the government’s imposition of strict preventive measures against the novel Corona Virus, a concession regarding School Year 2020-2021 has been made with the reason to hope for life continuity and most especially for every child’s learning!
The Department of Education proposes a framework in relation to the reopening and operating of schools for this S.Y. 2020-2021. Amidst the overwhelming amount of questions concerning the possible risk and learning constraints for some financially handicapped students (including the ones without the provision of internet connection), the Education sector appears to stand firm with their decision to administer what has been announced at the IAFT Meeting held last May 8, 2020.
The following information are taken from the official website of DepEd.gov.ph
Highlights for S.Y. 2020-2021 School Calendar:
1.After consultations and internal discussions, DepEd has reached a decision to set the opening of School Year (SY) 2020-2021 on August 24, 2020. However, the days in August prior to the formal school opening will be used to provide learners with assignments to explore foundational topics for deepening during the year, orientation on the utilization of alternative learning delivery modalities and corresponding learners’ materials, and mental health and psychosocial support activities. These pre-opening activities devoted to the attainment of the learning objectives for the school year, as indicated in # 1, shall be counted as class days.
2. The school year will end on April 30, 2021.
3. Because of the compressed school year, I am is exercising the prerogative to authorize the conduct of distance learning activities on Saturdays. Should religious considerations prohibit these Saturday activities, they shall be undertaken on Sundays. In all, the total class days in the 2020-2021 school calendar will be 203 days.
4. School opening will not necessarily mean traditional face-to-face learning in classroom. The physical opening of schools will depend on the risk severity grading or classification of a locality, pursuant to guidelines of the DOH, IATF or the OP. Even in areas where schools are allowed to open, physical distancing will still be required, which will necessitate schools to combine face-to-face learning with distance learning.
5. Schools and CLCs, under the supervision of the Regional and Division Offices, are authorized to decide on the specific learning delivery modalities (such as blended and online learning delivery modes through the Learning Resources portal and DepEd Commons; use of TV and radio; and learning modules and packets both in print and digital format); which may be deemed appropriate in their context. Where face-to-face modality is allowed, there shall only be a maximum of 15 to 20 learners in each class in compliance with the social distancing measures set by the DOH.
6. Private schools and state/local universities and colleges (SUCs/LUCs) offering basic education will be allowed to open classes within the period authorized by Republic Act No. 7797, which is on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August, Provided:
- No face-to-face classes will be allowed earlier than August 24, 2020, and from then on, face-to-face classes may be conducted only in areas allowed to open physically.
- Private schools, SUCs and LUCs offering basic education are enjoined to submit their plan for compliance with minimum health standards that will be issued by DepEd, consistent with guidelines by the Department of Health (DOH), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), and the OP.
- They are also enjoined to submit their Learning Continuity Plan showing alternative delivery modes of learning when face-to-face learning is not allowed, in accordance with the guidelines to be issued by DepEd.
- Said schools should notify in advance their respective regional offices (ROs) regarding any deviation from the school calendar.
7. Teachers shall start rendering service on June 1, 2020, upon completion of summer vacation on May 31, 2020. They will attend orientation and training activities on the utilization of the distance learning delivery modalities, prepare instructional materials, and plan the organization of classes in consideration of the learning delivery modalities to be employed. If skeleton workforce will still be the operative government guidelines by June, DepEd shall issue the appropriate alternative work arrangements guidelines to the field to comply with prevailing policy, and to ensure safe work environment.
8. Schools shall conduct enrollment from June 1–30, 2020 for all learners intending to attend SY 2020-2021, including those who enrolled during the early registration period in February 2020, given that circumstances have changed substantially. The enrollees and/or their parents/guardians shall provide information through an enrollment and survey form intended to collect important information to consider for the adoption of the relevant learning delivery strategies and modalities and to further provide support to learners for the school year. The enrolment process shall use online or other innovative ways to adhere to social distancing protocols.
9. Brigada Eskwela and Oplan Balik Eskwela will be undertaken from June 1, 2020 to August 29, 2020. Oplan Kalusugan (OK) sa DepEd will be scheduled in September 2020. Separate guidelines for these activities will be issued.
10. The conduct of curricular and co-curricular activities that involve gathering of large number of learners, such as science fairs, showcase of portfolios, trade fairs, school sports, campus journalism, festival of talents, job fairs, career orientation, and other similar activities are cancelled for the school year, except for those that can be conducted through online platform.
11. The conduct of activities related to Palarong Pambansa shall be decided separately by the Palarong Pambansa.
However, differing views arise as President Duterte promulgated the need for vaccine FIRST before allowing the reopening of classes. Some of the parents eagerly sided with the President’s announcement as they are fueled with worry for their child’s safety. And yet, DepEd sector as aligned with their proposal for the “New Normal, introduced the concept of a digital approach as part of the teaching strategies and are designed to outline for pre-conditions of the learning advancement for students.
Substantially, flexible learning modes are being offered and this includes the use of television and radios. But even all the efforts may be well-appreciated, upon deeper assessment of the proposed framework along with the possibility of operational complications, we might have a long way yeto come up with the perfect plan. Without a doubt, it is important to weigh the options when it comes to addressing the children’s learning needs because it is indeed not just an education’s decision but it primarily includes the demand of mitigating the health risks.
The opposing views of the public manifest the gravity of the COVID-19’s impact. There might be difficulty in concluding the best way to address the concern for a child’s learning. However, let us join hands together in prayer and lift our worries while hoping to synthesize a resilient educational strategy.
For the meantime, let us wait for further notice from the Department of Education regarding updates on the reopening of classes. But let us not limit ourselves for continuous learning as there are various digital opportunities we can explore!