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MANILA, Philippines – After more than two years of forced campus shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public elementary and high schools returned to the traditional five days of face-to-face classes a week starting Wednesday, November 2.
This was based on the first order that Vice President Sara Duterte issued as concurrent education secretary. She made the order through the Department of Education (DepEd) Order 34, s. 2022, containing the calendar of activities for school year 2022-2023, and which was made public on July 2.
When school year 2022-2023 began on August 22, almost 90% of the 60,000 public and private schools in the country had already started transitioning to in-person classes, although some still had a distance learning component – the so-called hybrid setup. (READ: DepEd: All schools should shift to face-to-face classes on November 2)
The DepEd has yet to give information on whether it has allowed some public schools to do distance learning. Duterte earlier said that exemptions could be given to “very specific areas.”
According to the DepEd, the exemption should be provided by the regional director to schools whose classes are automatically canceled due to disaster and calamities, and those that are implementing alternative delivery modes.
For the private schools, however, the Vice President gave the go signal to continue distance learning even beyond November 2. Duterte allowed them to implement three days of in-person classes and two days of distance learning for the blended modality. They may also continue to do full distance learning. (READ: DepEd allows partial face-to-face classes for private schools)
Some 28.79 million students were recorded to have enlisted for the school year 2022-2023.
The return to face-to-face classes in the Philippines is long overdue, considering the country’s education system that is largely unprepared for distance learning. (READ: Distance learning in the Philippines: A year of hits and misses)
Studies showed students were “learning less” under the distance learning setup. Experts and lawmakers were alarmed by the learning losses brought by the pandemic.
According to a World Bank report, 9 in 10 Filipino students aged 10 struggle to read simple text.
Despite criticisms, the Vice President considered the return to face-to-face classes as her major accomplishment in her first 100 days in office. – Rappler.com