The Department of Education on Monday said the mandatory daily face-to-face classes in all public schools will push through as scheduled on November 2, while private schools may continue with blended learning.
At the same time, DepEd Usec. Epimaco Densing said the department would remove the 50-minute mother tongue language as a subject in a bid to decongest the K-12 curriculum.
“We will continue using the mother tongue as a medium of instruction for students in kindergarten to Grade 3. But we also agreed on something that can help decongest the curriculum… We all agreed in the curriculum and instruction division to do away with the 50 minutes of mother tongue as a subject,” Densing said.
Under the K-12 program, the mother tongue subject focuses on the development of students’ speaking, reading, and writing skills in their first or local language. There are 19 local languages being used in schools across the country.
Meanwhile, under the blended learning scheme, private schools can have three days of in-person classes and two days of distance learning, and eventually four days of in-person classes, and one day of distance learning.
“DepEd is cognizant of the current situation of the private sector due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – the amount of investment in online learning technologies, the development and institutionalization of best practices on blended learning, and the unfortunate closure of small private schools because of losses,” it added.
The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines thanked DepEd for “giving primary consideration to students’ and parents’ choice of platforms.”
“This also gives the flexibility needed to strengthen innovation in basic [education] schools and maximize the benefits of hybrid learning modalities, even as we also integrate in-person classes in schools,” the group said.
The Federation of Associations of Private School Administrators (FAPSA) said private schools would have suffered “more problems” if forced to implement full face-to-face classes next month.
“Even our own parents do not want to send their kids to school daily since the outbreak or COVID-19 is very much around,” FAPSA President Eleazardo Kasilag said.
House ways and means committee chairman Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Monday lauded the decision of DepEd.
“Private schools are able to deliver a more diverse and flexible set of school services using technology. It’s good to allow them to continue such arrangements. It’s even better to learn from them,” Salceda said.
As for public schools, only those having “alternative delivery modes” due to calamities and disasters will be exempted from the full implementation of in-person classes on November 2, DepEd said.
“After the said date, no public school shall be allowed to implement purely distance learning or blended learning, except for those that are expressly provided an exemption by the Regional Director, those whose classes are automatically canceled due to disaster and calamities,” it said.
“The Department of Education maintains its confidence in the benefits of holding in-person classes to promote academic development and the overall mental health and well-being of our learners. Several published studies point to the indisputable fact that in-person classes remain the best option for basic education,” the DepEd added.
Around 90 percent of 47,000 public schools nationwide have been conducting in-person classes alongside distance learning modalities during the transition period.
Earlier, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio said learning gaps were incurred during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when pure distance learning was being implemented.
“We are still facing so many challenges in the education sector, and we will keep on working hard with the aim of providing accessible, quality, and inclusive basic education for all. We thank the Filipino people for their trust. Your support is essential for the success, not only of the Department but more importantly of our learners,” she said.