âNo stopping August 24 opening of classesâ
Teachers of the Bonifacio Elementary School in Guisad, Baguio City disinfect plastic envelopes containing learning modules before loading them for distribution to parents of pupils yesterday. Teachers also talked to the parents and guardians about the proper approach to teaching their children through distance learning.
Andy Zapata Jr.
‘No stopping August 24 opening of classes’
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - August 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There’s no stopping the Department of Education (DepEd) from opening classes on Aug. 24 for 22.9 million Filipinos who have enrolled for school year 2020-2021.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said delaying further the resumption of school would be harmful to children who risk being left behind by their counterparts in Southeast Asia.

She noted during a virtual press briefing yesterday that the Philippines is one of only two countries in the region, the other being Cambodia, whose students have not returned to school.

Recent developments in the COVID-19 situation in the country, she said, would hardly be a valid excuse since no face-to-face classes will be held.

“I repeat, we are doing the blended approach here,” she added, referring to the various distance learning modalities that will address distancing protocols and ensure the protection of learners and teachers.

Briones pointed out that Vietnam had already opened classes in May, Singapore in June while the other countries did so in July. These countries, she said, are also implementing blended learning, with some even doing face-to-face sessions one or two days of the school week.

“This Aug. 24 opening is already the furthest of what is legally allowed,” Briones stressed.

The DepEd chief also argued that education continued to open in the past, even with the country’s previous experiences of typhoons, earthquakes, floods and other tragedies.

Briones fears that Filipino schoolchildren will be left behind internationally and locally as skipping a year in school will set them back a year for their respective age level.

“We could not deny the children the opportunity to improve their lives, to prepare them for adulthood,” she said in Filipino.

She lamented that the debate on whether to postpone the Aug. 24 school opening was only an issue among adults.

“In the meantime, all over the world, schools have already opened… They (students) can’t go on to engineering, they can’t go on to becoming doctors or nurses, because they will be held back at basic education… think of the children,” Briones said.

The secretary also said that people should not wait for that time when children will lose interest in schooling as she cited studies that show the negative effects of a lengthy break.

She renewed her pitch for the Aug. 24 opening of classes after the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition, a federation of public school teachers’ associations, intensified its lobby for postponement of the start of classes to a latter date.

Not ready

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo said she had a meeting with a group of teachers last week and found that many teachers across the country are not yet ready for the blended learning scheme with less than two weeks before the opening of classes

“Basically, what they were saying is they are not ready and they are asking for help from the DepEd,” she said over dzXL on Sunday.

Robredo claimed that some teachers still had no idea where to claim the learning modules as well as who should shoulder printing costs.

The teachers, she said, also appealed for COVID-19 testing and regular check-ups to protect them during the pandemic.

“They are asking if they could be tested (for COVID-19) and also for a regular check-up to ensure that they are protected while they render their service,” she added.

Robredo said she would forward the teachers’ concerns to DepEd this week. – Helen Flores

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