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DepEd says proceeding with graduation ceremony ‘up to school’s discretion’

Jene-Anne Pangue
DepEd says proceeding with graduation ceremony ‘up to school’s discretion’

'We trust the schools, we trust the parents, and we trust their capacity to assess if they can implement the [DOH] guidelines which are publicly known,' says Education Secretary Leonor Briones

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday, March 11, said that it would be up to public schools to decide on whether or not to push through with graduation ceremonies amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“Kung kaya ng schools i-implement strictly ang Department of Health (DOH) guidelines sa health eh magpatuloy sila ng graduation at saka gagawa sila ng paraan para mako-contain ang size ng crowds kasi ang sabi ni DOH, iko-control ang mass gatherings,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said in a press conference. 

(If schools can strictly implement the guidelines set by the DOH, they may proceed with the graduation and they must find a way to control the size of the crowd following DOH’s protocols on mass gatherings.)

The DepEd reiterated that schools have the discretion to choose the date for conducting moving up and graduation rites within the week of April 13 to 17, 2020, provided that they follow the  DOH guidelines.

“We trust the schools, we trust the parents, and we trust their capacity to assess if they can implement the guidelines which are publicly known,” Briones stressed. 

Briones said that schools may opt to limit the number of parents or relatives who will be attending the ceremony in order to control the size of the crowd.

She added that she was not worried since students were being taught about health and personal hygiene protocols with or without the threat of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus.

However, if schools decide not to push through with the ceremony within the said week, they may, upon consultation with the parents and teachers, choose to reschedule the event.

Staggered exam schedule

With class suspensions in Metro Manila this week affecting the schedule of examinations for graduating students, DepEd said that all teachers are set to schedule all remaining 4th quarter examinations in the week of March 16 to 20 on a staggered basis to reduce the number of students in the school per day. 

Briones also reiterated that no mass promotion or passing of students would be done.

No mass passing, no automatic or mass promotion because that is not the policy of the Duterte administration,” she said.

In extreme conditions when suspension of work and classes ensue, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the department has outlined its alternative plan. 

“Sa tingin namin ay dahil nasa yugto na kami ng school year ay may sapat na na batayan para bigyan ng grado doon sa 4th quarter even in the absence of final test. Ang pinag-uusapan ngayon, paano ang transmutation na gagawin – only for extreme cases,” Malaluan stressed. 

(As we see it, because the school year is now on its last period, schools have enough basis for giving grades for the fourth quarter even in the absence of a final test. What we are considering now is how the transmutation of grades will be done if extreme cases happen.)

DepEd has also encouraged private schools in basic education to adopt its guidelines as well. 

“Ang private sector dahil sila ay may autonomy na mag-isip ng anong paraan para ma-achieve din ang goals nila…pero ang purpose ay ibalanse ang safety ng learners, containment of COVID-19, and hindi madisrupt ang buhay ng mga bata sa kanilang learning process,” Briones said. 

(Although the private sector may have autonomy to think of ways to achieve their goals to prevent and control the disease in schools, the purpose should focus on striking a balance regarding the safety of the learners, containment of COVID-19, and not to disrupt the lives of the students in their learning process.)  

Briones added that conducting “online classes are alright” but may not be applicable in all areas due to possible internet connectivity issues. – 

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Jene-Anne Pangue

Jene-Anne Pangue is a community and civic engagement specialist of MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm. Her involvement with Rappler started when she became a mover in 2014 and an intern in 2015. Since then, she learned the importance of building communities of action for social good as she continues to work with movers and doers across the country.