DepEd distances from VP Leni’s community learning hub project

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2020   •   299

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday distanced itself from the community learning hub project led by the Office of the Vice President (OVP), stressing that the government’s no face-to-face classes policy remains amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones made the statement amid the operation of community learning hubs in various localities in the country.

These hubs are places that provide support for students who may not have access to computers, stable internet connection and other equipment required for online learning and modular distance learning amid the pandemic.

“Ang polisiya namin, dahil sinusunod namin ang utos ng Presidente, hindi natin yan ina-allow,” Briones said.

“Wala naman sa authority ng DepEd na mag-anunsyo ng ganung klase na i-reverse natin ang sinasabi ng Presidente,” she added.

In October, Vice President Leni Robredo led the launching of a community learning hub in Pasig City. The facility only allows entry to a total of 10 persons, including six students, at a time.

Persons entering the hub are required to strictly observe health and safety protocols to prevent the possible transmission of COVID-19.

According to Briones, a request for the establishment of these hubs was sent by the OVP, but stressed that the DepEd is not involved in such a move.

“Last August, nag-request ang office ng Vice President na nagsasabi na sina-suggest nila ang project na yan. Tapos, sinagot namin. Humingi kami ng details. Tapos, on record yan lahat at saka binigyan namin ng kopya ang President at saka ang Executive Secretary ng aming mga sagot. So, on record yan lahat,” the DepEd chief said.

Briones said that since DepEd does not allow face-to-face classes, the OVP directly coordinated with the local government units (LGU).

“So ang sitwasyon ngayon, halimbawa sa Pasig, nag-coordinate sila sa LGU ng Pasig dahil hindi naman in-approve ng Division superintendent ‘yun,” she said.

The DepEd chief said the OVP also planned to open a similar hub in Caloocan City but it was not approved by the LGU.

It also coordinated with the Taytay LGU in Rizal but Briones said the DepEd is not involved in the initiative. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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.

Face-to-face classes will only be allowed upon Duterte, IATF approval – DepEd

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education has stressed that it will only allow the conduct of face-to-face classes upon the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the government’s policy prohibiting in-person classes will remain amid the coronavirus pandemic, although the department is looking into the possibility of reintroducing face-to-face classes next year.

She said a report to be submitted to the president on the opening of classes and DepEd’s recommendations is being finalized.

“We are preparing a report for the President on our current experience with the opening of classes, at klaro naman na kung magkaroon ng face to face, it will be very limited to areas which are absolutely safe. There will be conditions from the Department of Health; there will also be conditions coming from us. Hindi po lahat-lahat, [hindi] sabay-sabay iyan na mag-face to face, kung payag si President,” Briones said.

“At saka, depende sa approach iyan, kasi iyong number of students, etc. So we are [also] now looking into that,” she added.

The school year opened last October 5 with blended forms of learning through self-learning modules, internet and TV- and radio-based instructions.

The DepEd chief also reiterated its earlier statement that it did not approve any localized and limited face-to-face learning workshops.

“Uulitin ko, definitely not this year at definitely walang mga arrangements right now with kung sinumang mga grupo na magpi-face to face at this time because the President has not made any pronouncement at all. Pero [patuloy kaming] magri-report kami sa kaniya,” Briones said.

Meanwhile, the Education chief also directed a study on reconceptualizing learning spaces post-COVID, which include not just classroom, but homes, community spaces, and virtual space.

DepEd to enforce stricter policies, strategic designs for disaster-proof school facilities

Robie de Guzman   •   November 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday said it will implement stricter policies and strengthen strategic school designs in light of the recent typhoons that affected many regions.

In a statement, DepEd said the move aims to assist schools and communities during calamities and ensure that school facilities can withstand stronger typhoons and earthquakes.

DepEd issued the statement after its officials visited and inspected school facilities and met with school administrators in Luzon areas severely affected by the spate of typhoons that entered the country in the previous weeks.

In a Rapid Assessment of Damages Report (RADAR) of DepEd Region V, 41% or 1,587 schools in Bicol suffered infrastructure damages due to Super Typhoon Rolly as of November 10, 2020. The partial estimated cost of damages is reportedly PhP 6.6 billion.

During field visits, Education Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo underscored the importance of redesigning school buildings to protect learners, teachers and personnel from the effects of natural disasters.

“We have to prepare our schools for stronger typhoons due to climate change. Dati rati, 5 to 10 years bago may malakas ulit na bagyo. Ngayon, halos kada taon, may malakas na bagyo,” Escobedo said during a meeting with school heads in Albay.

According to Education Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, DepEd engineers are already drawing up proposals for new school designs but noted that the reconstruction or rehabilitation efforts will vary depending on the current status of school buildings and available funds.

“We have to go back again to the drawing board kasi palakas nang palakas ang mga bagyo. Ang target namin, within the next 15-20 years, nakatayo pa rin ang mga school buildings at hindi nasisira,” Pascua said.

He cited roofing, ceiling, and window patterns, as well as engineering as major considerations in the redesigning of DepEd facilities.

He likewise said that local DepEd engineers and school heads should work together in ensuring that only appropriate materials will be used by contractors to achieve storm- and earthquake-proof school buildings.

“Dapat kasama ang mga engineers at makita nila [construction of facilities] para malaman kung tama ba yung bakal o bago ikabit yung ceiling ay maayos lahat. Kaya dapat ay bantayan para masiguradong nasa standard lahat. Kailangan natin magparami ng mga engineers,” Pascua said.

Local DepEd engineers have until Nov. 30 to submit post-disaster needs assessment for inclusion in the program of works next year.

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