DepEd, CHED say no to calls for nationwide, Luzon-wide academic freeze

Robie de Guzman   •   November 17, 2020   •   868

College students in front of the Commission on Higher Education building calling for an end to the semester due to challenges in distance learning and the impact of recent typhoons that hit the country. (Photo courtesy: Philippine Collegian)

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities on Tuesday thumbed down calls for academic break following the spate of typhoons that devastated many areas in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Education (DepEd) said they understand the plight of many students but stressed that issuing an academic freeze is unlikely as the law clearly states the school calendar for each year.

“’Yung academic freeze ay baka sa ngayon po, humihingi po kami ng pang-unawa, ay hindi po tutugma sa batas na nabanggit ko. May batas na nagsasabi kailan ang unang araw ng pasukan at ilang araw bawat school year at kailan pupwedeng kanselahan po ito,” Education Undersecretary Tonisito Umali said.

Instead of academic break, Umali said the department has implemented an “academic ease,” where students are given flexible time to submit requirements and activities under the distance learning program.

“Binibigyan na po natin ngayon ng diskresyon ang ating mga guro doon sa panahon na pwedeng gugulin ng mga bata para makumpleto ito. I-extend at piliin na lang yung mga exercises na halimbawa o activity sheets na tatalakayin o ipapagawa,” he said.

CHED, for its part, said decisions on the matter of class suspensions should be left on school authorities who know best the situation in their respective areas.

CHED chairman Prospero De Vera said a unilateral suspension is not a good policy as different schools and families were affected differently by the calamities. Decisions on this matter should also be based on what is actually happening on the ground.

Calls for an “academic freeze” surfaced following consecutive strong storms that hit the country in the previous weeks.

Various groups have raised the challenges posed by the recent disasters on students and teachers amid the implementation of distance learning programs.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the recent calamities did not have much effect on education since the primary mode of instruction is modular or online learning.

He also said that instead of academic break for state universities and colleges, they will only be allowed to extend their school calendars for one to two weeks.

“At ang desisyon ng CHED, hindi po papayagan ang academic break na hinihingi ng ilan. Kundi ang decision po ng en banc ng CHED ay para i-extend po yung mga pamantasan o mga kolehiyo na di po nakapagklase dahil sa bagyo ng one or two weeks para po matapos po ang kanilang semester,” he said.

Several universities have announced week-long class suspensions in light of the impact of typhoons, and the mental burden of students and teachers amid the calamity. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

1,114 schools nominated for pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in January — DepEd

Marje Pelayo   •   December 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Regional Directors of the Department of Education (DepEd) nominated a total of 1,114 school candidates for the pilot implementation of the face-to-face classes in January 2021.

Most of them are in Regions 4A and 8 which passed the conditions set by DepEd like location and if the schools have management plans for students, teachers as well as available facilities.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said they are not expecting all 1,114 schools to qualify as they will still be evaluated.

“The other regions nagba-vary pero ang (vary but the) final listing will be very much lesser than the 1,114 considering na may ibang factor tayong tinitingnan, ikino-consider (that we are also looking into other factors),” the Secretary said.

Meanwhile, schools in Davao Region, Cotabato and the National Capital Region are not included in the list of potential venues for the dry run.

DepEd NCR Director Malcolm Garma said the NCR remains under general community quarantine (GCQ) though they are still hoping for the situation to improve soon.

Tignan po natin pagdating po ng Enero kung ano po ang magiging estado ng National Capital Region pagdating po sa community quarantine level (Let’s see what the status of the NCR will be come January when it comes to community quarantine level),” he said.

“Maaari pong doon natin ibabatay kung handa na po ang NCR para lumahok sa gagawing pilot limited face to face (We will see then if the NCR is ready to take part of the limited face-to-face classes),” he added.

DepEd also clarified that though face-to-face classes will be implemented, it will not be mandatory for all students given the limited room capacity of 15 to 20 persons.

“Hindi po full class size at hindi rin po full week schedule ang mga bata, kundi combine pa rin po ito sa distance learning (It will not be a full class size nor a full week schedule for the children. It will still be combined with distance learning),” said DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan.  —MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)

DepEd Usec. Pascua contracts COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   December 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Alain Pascua on Friday confirmed he has tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“As a government official, it is my duty to inform the public that I tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, December 10,” Pascua said in a statement.

He said he was exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual last Friday, December 4, and experienced mild symptoms on Tuesday, December 8.

He said he is currently in a hospital for quarantine procedures and medical observation.

“I have already advised my staff who had close contact with me last week to self-quarantine as an extra precautionary measure the central office has also coordinated with local health authorities to conduct contact tracing and other necessary interventions to ensure the safety of everyone,” he said.

Pascua, however, said that he will continue to carry out his duties for the department and will still attend meetings virtually and “make necessary decisions for the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration.”

Units under his watch will also continue to execute their mandates and functions, he added.

“Nonetheless, this may serve as a reminder for everyone not to be complacent in protecting themselves against the virus, especially during this holiday season,” he said.

“We must continue following health protocols such as wearing masks, physical distancing, and washing of hands,” he added.

Last day of classes in public schools for 2020 is Dec. 12 – DepEd

Marje Pelayo   •   December 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) has announced that the last day of classes in public schools for the first quarter of schoolyear 2020-2021 will be on December 12.

In a Facebook post, DepEd said the holiday break for kindergarten to grade 12 students nationwide will be from December 19, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

Classes are expected to resume on January 4, 2021.

Teachers, meanwhile, are set to have their In-Service Training (INSET) week from December 14 to 19, 2020.

The schedule is based on DepEd Order No. 30. Series of 2020 signed by Education Secretary Leonor Briones on October 2020.

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