January 31, 2023

As school year 2020-2021 opens on Aug. 24, the traditional face-to-face interaction between teachers and learners will be limited under a setup where keeping physical distance shall be the norm to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV2, the pathogen that causes the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19).

The central offices of the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority are refining guidelines of the new setup called “blended learning scheme” but for public schools, some of the initial plans are to divide into half the total number of learners per class. Half of the class will report to class for two and a half days, while the other half will study from home via online, and vice versa. 

In a teleconference with the city council on May 4, DepEd Baguio Chief Education Supervisor Juliet Sannad said dividing the class into two is in keeping with the physical distance guidelines under the general community quarantine. Wearing of face masks will also be mandatory for all students, faculty staff members, and other school personnel. 

Issues such as lack of financial resources for Internet connection and absence of desktop computers or laptops of some students and how the DepEd will adjust to these are still being discussed, Sannad said.

Sannad said parents or the learners guardians will be informed of the new guidelines before enrollment for SY 2020-2021 begins. 

Higher education institutions, private schools, and technical-vocational institutions (TVI) are likely to also adopt the same scheme and guidelines are now being crafted on how to implement a blended learning system, said CHED Regional Director Marco Domingo, Tesda-Cordillera Director Manuel Wong, and Baguio City Association of Private School Administrators president Annie Caguioa.

Domingo said there is an ongoing dialogue with private telecommunication providers to give discount to learners who will subscribe to their Internet services. For those who cannot afford monthly subscription, modular instruction is an option being explored.

For TVIs, Tesda will survey the capacity of TVIs in adjusting to a blended learning scheme.

For skills assessment of TVI graduates, Wong said there is a proposal that assessment will be through a portfolio system.

He said instead of actual assessment, graduates only need to submit documentary proof of training.

On May 5, DepEd Sec. Leonor Briones announced that based on the agency’s consultation with stakeholders, DepEd has chosen that SY 2020-2021 will begin Aug. 24 and will end on April 30, 2021.

The DepEd’s recommendation has been submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which will decide how classes will be conducted per area in the country.

Briones said teachers and non-teaching staff will start reporting to work whether physical or online by June 1. – Rimaliza A. Opiña