DepEd: We’re ready for deferred start of classes

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    THE Department of Education on Tuesday said it has mapped plans for the late opening of the 2020-2021 school year after results of multi-sectoral consultations favored moving the date from June to August.

    Education Secretary Leonor Briones, during Malacañang’s “Laging Handa” briefing, said safety was the primary consideration among teachers, businesses, students, and parents who want to move back the opening of classes in the face of COVID-19 fears.

    “We had consultations with various sectors and stakeholders. Safety is the primary concern. A clear majority supports a start by August in order to have more time for safety precautions, to ensure there will no longer be any risk,” Briones said.

    She said these inputs, together with those coming from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, will be considered by the agency in coming up with recommendations to President Duterte.

    Briones said the DepEd will use the intervening two months from June to August to launch initiatives for continuity of learning, including alternative delivery modes like online education.

    “Whatever the President decides, we will not allow those two months to go to waste. We have programs for continuing learning so schoolchildren won’t be idle during that period,” she said.

    “What we assure our learners, parents, teachers, and the general public is that any decision we will make for the continuation of learning will have their health, safety and well-being as primary consideration. We will also have to iron out all the usual kinks like checking the infrastructure and ensuring that school facilities and learning materials are ready,” Briones added.

    She warned, however, that teachers, parents and students should prepare for several changes once classes get going, all aimed at complying with safety recommendations from health authorities.

    “We will not go back to the old system. We will have to adapt to change,” Briones said.

    Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said the department leadership has moved early to ensure the welfare of teachers during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and other parts of the country.

    “We have already released the advance pay of our teachers, together with their clothing allowances, performance bonus, and 13th month pay,” Sevilla said.

    She added the teacher’s take home pay will not be subjected to the usual deductions for their loans as the DepEd has interceded with private lending companies and government financial institutions for deferred amortizations and interests.

    Briones pointed out that the DepEd has the biggest bureaucracy among all government offices with almost one million teachers and thousands of support staff. – With Noel Talacay

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