Public school enrollment to proceed on June 1 – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — Children’s education won’t stop even during the new coronavirus pandemic.
The formal learning on the issue will resume on Aug. 24, and the only question is whether classes would be in-person or would consist of “blended learning,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Wednesday.
Parents should enroll their children starting June 1, Roque said, even though President Rodrigo Duterte told the nation late Monday that he would not allow students to go back to school until a vaccine for COVID-19, the severe respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, was available.
Living with the virus
In a television interview, Roque said the holding of in-person classes from Aug. 24 would depend on whether the nation had learned to live with the virus, that is, people going about their regular daily activities while observing public health measures like wearing protective masks, physical distancing, frequent hand-washing and proper coughing or sneezing—which he termed as “new normal.”
If there is still community quarantine and adaptation to the virus is slow by Aug. 24, schools will employ a mix of distance-learning measures, he said.
The Department of Education (DepEd) is preparing for instruction online or through community radio and television, and private companies, he added.
Remote instruction, he said, does not preclude in-person meetings. There could be small meetings for assessment purposes and the like. Schools can be creative, he added.
“We have to adapt [to] the times,” he said.
As for Duterte’s statement on Monday that there would be no more studying, only playing, for children, Roque said the President was just emphasizing his point that he would not put children in harm’s way.
Not for poor students
Educators and lawmakers rejected delaying the return of school, all of them suggesting distance learning with some pointing out the disadvantage to students from impoverished families that did not own computers, which are key to the viability of online classes.
By law, students should return to school on the first Monday of June, but the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, the temporary government body overseeing the Duterte administration’s response to the pandemic, approved the DepEd’s recommendation for an Aug. 24 return for 25 million primary and secondary students, with the school year ending on April 30, 2021.
The Commission on Higher Education has given colleges and universities with full remote-class capabilities the go-signal to reopen anytime but told institutions capable only of classroom instruction to wait until Sept. 1.
There are proposals for the scrapping of the school year altogether, but the educators, including those from public schools, won’t go beyond delaying school opening.
“Delay is wiser than gambling with the children’s health,” Benjo Basas, a member of Teachers’ Dignity Coalition, said on Wednesday.
Private schools, dependent on tuition and a host of other student fees, have problems even with a delay in school opening. Some have reported running out of cash by the end of May.
The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines on Monday opposed scrapping the school year.
Fr. Nolan Que, the group’s Metro Manila trustee, said the move would make students idle for a year and cause Catholic school employees to lose their jobs.
“Private schools have employees, like me, for example. We have 600 employees. How can we help them for one year?” Que said.
—With a report from Tina G. Santos
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