DepEd-Central Visayas pushes for limited face-to-face classes

Lorraine Ecarma

File photo of a student in a classroom.

Photo from DepEd

The DepEd regional director says they received over 160 resolutions from local government units and parent-teacher associations

The Department of Education- Central Visayas is pushing for “limited face-to-face classes” in some of its hinterland and island schools.

DepEd-7 regional director Salustiano Jimenez said in a phone interview with Cebu media that the thrust towards limited face-to-face classes was initiated by parents through multiple resolutions passed within parent-teacher associations during the third week of October.

“I received more than 160 resolutions from the parent-teacher associations from local government units requesting for limited face-to-face (classes). And with that, it also prompted me to come up with a proposal to the regional IATF,” he said.

The regional Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 endorsed these resolutions to the national IATF and DepEd Central Office. These national agencies would then endorse it to the Office of the President.

Jimenez said the proposal was for the classes to be divided into two, with each half attending two days of physical lessons each week. For the remaining 3 days of the week, the students would answer their activity sheets and worksheets.

“For example, if there are 30 learners in a class, 15 mao ra’y ang moreport (only 15 will report) on the first two days. The remaining 15 or 50% will be the next two days. And then, the Fridays and Saturdays will be used by the teachers in preparation of other things,” he said.

Jimenez says DepEd-7 was targeting low-risk hinterland areas and island barangays with zero cases of COVID-19 because the relatively smaller population made it easier to enforce health protocols set by the IATF.

“We will implement it gradually in our region. Possibly we’ll start in the hinterland schools and island schools. Because the reasons behind it is that, hinterland schools we have [a] small population. Gamay ra’g mga bata (there are fewer students), so we can easily implement the protocol set by the Department of Health and the IATF,” he said.

Jimenez added that in these areas, teachers travelled great distances for house-to-house distribution of learning materials, while parents often could not attend to their children’s academic progress.

“Most of our parents in the hinterlands do not have the capacity gyud to facilitate and to help our learners sa ilang mga modules. Labi na busy sila sa mga uma (especially those who are busy with farm work),” he said.

Should a confirmed COVID-19 case break out in an area holding physical classes, Jimenez said face-to-face learning would immediately be cancelled there. Detailed guidelines and protocols for face-to-face classes would also vary between DepEd division offices to adapt to their particular situations.

Meanwhile, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said she supported the push for limited face-to-face classes, adding that the Cebu Provincial Government would help spend for the purchase of sanitation lamps, air purifiers and vitamins to ensure quality education for the province’s public schools.

She said that of all the province’s municipalities, the highest level of internet connectivity was only at 20%.

She also said that the province would push for the use of English as the basic medium of instruction in all grade levels. She said Cebu province would create a “panel of editors” to curate new textbooks for students.

“We will resume looking into these textbooks. I’m ready to set aside funding for that. But kaning mga module-module [these modules], we didn’t set aside funding for that because we could not be assured that it will achieve the level of education that we would wish our children to have,” she said.

Of the reported P1.2 billion proposed by DepEd Cebu Province, Garcia said the Provincial Government refused to shell out funds for the printing of 10 months work of modules.

“Our standard of education has grossly been lowered with this module-module thing,” she said referring to the errors found in the DepEd distanced learning modules.

The League of Municipalities- Cebu Chapter also recently released a resolution in support of DepEd-7 should it be allowed by IATF, and DepEd Central Office and health protocols established.

“The League is not opposed to the prospect of limited face-to-face classes as proposed by the DepEd provided that the DepEd provides a clear policy, a more concrete execution plan and specific guidelines in order to ensure the health and safety of students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders during its implementation,” the resolution read.

Of the 44 municipalities in Cebu Province, 21 are COVID-free.

As of Monday, November 16, Central Visayas has a total number of 23,328 cases. Of those, 1,057 were active cases, 20,899 have recovered and 1,372 have died.

The Province of Cebu alone has 6,586 cases. Of that number, 313 were active cases, 5,875 have recovered and 398 have died. –

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