It is the middle of the year 2020 now, and in the Philippines things have been different from every other year that came before. No thanks to the global COVD-19 pandemic, regular schooling on all possible tiers of education has been affected. Classes that should have started last month in June are now tentatively set to begin late in August. Even then, necessity has mandated that alternative means of learning that would minimize physical interaction are being prepared, with varying levels of readiness across the nation. As if understanding the difficulties of distance/online teaching, the President is now offering a ray of hope for schools.
According to Inquirer.net, the education sector of the Philippines has prevailed upon President Rodrigo Duterte to give the okay for the limited conducting of traditional classes, with students and teachers face-to-face in classroom and lecture settings. These conventional teaching arrangements could be done in areas of the country that are designated to be under “low-risk” Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ). This was decided following a Cabinet meeting with the President on the evening of Monday, July 20. This shot-in-the-dark idea was floated during the assembly by Secretary Leonor Briones of the Department of Education (DepEd).
But as the DepEd secretary herself clarified, due to the considerations with the standard health and safety protocols against COVID-19, even with face-to-face school learning allowed, the actual class days for this will only once or twice in a week. Physical classes in this fashion is for the consideration of many Filipino students without easy access to computers and mobile gadgets with which to avail of online learning material, and thus prevent “equity problems” in the level of instruction. President Duterte has agreed with Briones’ proposal and, according to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, has given the motion his official approval.
The original plan regarding trying to teach students for the current academic year was that, according to President Rodrigo Duterte, no physical classes could be conducted for as long as there is no available vaccine for the COVID infection. This has spurred private and public schools, especially the latter, to develop a mixture of online and home-delivered educational curriculum for students of various year levels. At present they only have a month and a few days to finalize their offered lessons before the rescheduled start of classes for academic year 2020-21 next month, August 24.
With the potentially changeable levels of community quarantine across the Philippines, even if limited face-to-face learning is on the table, it will be “case-to-case” in execution, with DepEd regional offices having to take cues from changes in community quarantine levels.
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