Public school teachers bear class opening difficulties
MANILA, Philippines — Teachers are doubling their efforts to prepare for the full implementation of in-person classes starting Nov. 2 as they claim that the government had “left them in the air” to solve the lack of resources in public schools nationwide.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has consistently admitted that there are “perennial problems” at the basic education level, such as classroom and teacher shortages, but this would not stop the full-blast in-person classes in all public schools on Wednesday.
“After more than 100 days in office, (the government) was not able to fix any of the problems aside from just saying that face-to-face classes will resume. It seemed like the teachers and school heads were left in the air to find solutions in ensuring that schools will reopen by Nov. 2,” Raymond Basilio, secretary general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), said at a virtual press conference on Monday.
Teacher Maricel Herrera, in the same briefing, said that there were some schools where students were asked to bring their own chairs for the conduct of in-person classes.
ACT earlier said they received a report from a teacher in Aplaya High School Annex in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna province, that the site of a science high school undergoing construction would be used for in-person classes because of the supposed severe shortage in classrooms.
According to one of the teachers from Aplaya High School, who declined to be named in this report, they have 3,966 students spread in 63 sections but only 21 instructional classrooms can accommodate them.
“So kahit na bali-baliktarin (whichever way you put it), you can’t do the classes in just two shifts, so we were allowed to have three shifts,” the teacher told the Inquirer.
The teacher said they asked the DepEd regional office to allow them to implement a scheme wherein a certain year level would attend physical classes for only two days a week while another year level would be in school for three days a week, allowing them to have only two class shifts.
However, the teacher said the regional office declined this request because “they want it full blast, five days a week.”
In a statement released on Oct. 27, the DepEd Calabarzon office refuted the report that the students would be studying in a construction site of an unfinished school building, saying that two school buildings with 24 classrooms were “already completed and turned over to the Schools Division Office (SDO) of Santa Rosa City.”
“According to the SDO Santa Rosa, the installation of a gate, partition walls between the two buildings … landscaping of the site premises and minor repairs are ongoing and are set to be completed before Nov. 2,” the regional office said.
DepEd Order No. 44, which allowed private schools to continue with blended learning after Nov. 2, said that public schools might be allowed to be exempted from holding five-day in-person classes, depending on the approval of their respective regional directors.
The DepEd said it would release the guidelines on what were the considerations for granting public schools the exemption to conduct full in-person classes. But on Monday, two days before its implementation, the policy had yet to be released.
In Metro Manila, Basilio said two schools requested to be exempted from the full in-person classes—Ramon Magsaysay High School in Quezon City and Nagpayong High School in Pasig City.
“Unfortunately, we’re wondering why the regional director of the DepEd NCR (National Capital Region) did not grant this request,” he said.
The group further called on the government to not pass the responsibility of ensuring the safe reopening of schools to teachers and school heads alone.
“This is your responsibility and if you can’t do it, you might as well give up your post. Teachers and school heads are already tired of looking for resources just to deliver the education services for the youth,” Basilio said.
The opening of in-person classes in public schools comes on the heels of a typhoon battering the country, affecting wide areas with flooding and damage to houses and livelihood. A second storm is expected to hit the country this week.
Pimentel: ‘Practical solutions’ for face-to-face classes needed amid new COVID variants
Laguna school has no choice but to hold classes in unfinished building — ACT
DepEd: Private schools may hold hybrid, remote classes beyond Nov. 2
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.