Resumption of face-to-face classes should be a ‘shared responsibility’ –DepEd exec
MANILA, Philippines — An official of the Department of Education (DepEd) on Friday expressed concern that the Education department would be solely blamed if learners will be exposed to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) once face-to-face classes are resumed.
During a Senate basic education committee hearing on Friday, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the “assignment of responsibility” should be among the factors that should be considered in the resumption of face-to-face classes.
“If we reintroduce it (face-to-face classes), we believe that there should be a strong agreement of shared responsibility of key stakeholders including the parents, and the local government units and probable other stakeholders in the community because without this, we feel that the DepEd will surely be blamed solely for any incidence of exposure or infection,” Malaluan told senators.
“This concern is not just political on our part because it can really put at risk learning continuity altogether. In other words, it will strengthen the position and arguments of those that are advocating for academic freeze…when things like this and episodes like this happen,” he added.
Further, the DepEd official said that health and safety management should also be considered, especially in terms of protocols should there be cases of COVID-19 transmission in schools.
“We will certainly have episodes or incidence of infection or exposure and it’s different with respect to teachers and personnel because there are certain mechanisms, but if we add the students then what is the management protocol in case there is infection or exposure,” he said.
While protocols are “very strong on the preventive side,” Malaluan admitted that there are gaps in the “management side.”
“It requires cooperation not just within the Department of Education but also with the Department of Health,” pointed out.
“We cannot internalize all the aspects of management that can include isolation and treatment and other things. It’s difficult as it is even for our personnel and teachers, how much more if we include the students into the picture,” he added.
DepEd is now finalizing its report and recommendation on the matter that would be submitted by Education Secretary Leonor Briones to President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Malaluan.
Citing DepEd data, Malaluan told the Senate committee that the number of enrollees for the current school reached 90.21 percent—over 25 million—of the number of students who enrolled last year.
As schools were forced to shut down due to the threat of COVID-19, DepEd has implemented blended learning for the current school year, which opened on October 5.
The DepEd solution required schools to shift from conventional to “hybrid” learning, so called because it involved a mix of distant online learning and modules delivered to students’ doorsteps or picked up from DepEd sites.
Electronic media delivered by the internet, radio, and TV broadcasts to mobile devices, computers, TV, and radio sets became a necessary component of blended, or hybrid, learning.
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