Teachers raise issues over DepEd’s plan to open new school year

Apr. 27, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – While the Department of Education (DepEd) eyes the month of August to open the school year 2020-2021, an alliance of teachers said that preventive measures should be first put in place to ensure the welfare of students and employees amid the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Talks on the resumption of classes are welcomed, but more than the ‘when’, the need for the government to deal with the ‘how’ and present concrete measures to prevent further COVID-19 outbreak should classes start while ensuring everyone’s access to quality education,” said Raymond Basilio, Secretary-General of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), in a statement.

Based on consultations with education experts and other stakeholders, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones earlier revealed that responses favored to start classes in August.

She also added that they are conducting a separate survey “related to social distancing; and online classes, cellphone, television or radio as an alternative or complementary approaches to learning.”

Briones, however, said they would still consider the recommendation from the government’s task force against COVID-19 on the opening of the school year.

“Deep-seated issues”

But ACT raised their concerns, on the physical distancing, for instance.

Basilio said it will not be possible in many of the schools, especially in urban areas “where one classroom is cut in half to accommodate two classes with 50 students each.”

He added this remains the case even as DepEd introduced decongestion measures such as the Alternative Delivery Mode of education and two-to-three shifts of classes, among others.

He also noted that frequent handwashing will be “challenging” since most of the population “do not have or have limited access to clean running water at school.” Infections, he added, will likely go unchecked due to the lack of school nurses.

The teachers’ alliance also said that proposals for distance learning “hardly seem viable without the needed equipment and internet connection” and noted that “online learning cannot replace classroom learning.”

“This, therefore, brings us to face the sad reality of how weak our education system is as a result of decades of neglect. And as we resolve the health crisis, so should the government address the many, deep-seated issues not just in education but in other social institutions,” Basilio said. (davaotoday.com)

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