Despite the slow but steady rise in COVID-19 cases, the Department of Education will proceed with the holding of face-to-face classes as mandated regardless of the alert level.
This was stressed by DepEd Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad during a press conference held prior to the Regional Management Conference at the E-Crown Hotel last July 21-22, 2022.
“We will open classes using blended learning by Aug. 22 for the Bicol region, with full face-to-face classes starting Nov. 2,” he disclosed. “We are ready even if there are still unrepaired classrooms due to lack of funds.”
Schools have the option to use three days of face-to-face plus two days blended or distance learning, or four days face-to-face and one day distance learning, as a transition for the full five-day face-to face or in person classes, he added.
Dir. Sadsad said the schools can do shifting of classes or hold two classes at one time, if they lack classrooms.
While the number of pupils in one classroom had been limited to 16 during the higher alert levels, the increase in capacity will depend on the school, especially if there is no active COVID case in the area, he clarified.
He noted that if the number of pupils is limited to 20, the teacher will have to do the class twice.
“We all have to make sacrifices,” Sadsad said as he appealed to local government units to help repair the damaged classrooms.
However, he pointed out that people in far-flung areas usually help each other to build makeshift classrooms or do the repairs themselves.
DepEd Catanduanes Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Susan Collano admitted that while the 1st release for the schoolbuilding repair in the division is 100% completed, another 288 classrooms still need repair at a cost of P123 million.
Dir. Sadsad bared that while Catanduanes got a total of P700 million from the department’s Quick Response Fund (QRF) and the regular fund, there is not enough to repair all classrooms damaged by super typhoon Rolly.
On the other hand, Governor Joseph Cua said that he recently met with Vice President Sara Duterte to impress upon the concurrent education secretary the need to complete the repair of public schools in the island, fearing that the funds could be allotted to the Visayas provinces due to the damage left by typhoon Odette last year.
In the meeting with local media, Dir. Sadsad discussed the Learning Recovery Plan titled RAISE, for Recovering for Academic achievement by Improving instruction through Sustainable, Evidence-based learning programs, intended to address learning losses during the pandemic.
Using the Comprehensive Rapid Literacy Assessment formulated by the USAID-funded ABC Plus, DepEd Bicol found out that more than 50% of the combined Grade One, Two and Three pupils are not ready for the grade level where they belong, he reported.
“This is alarming in our part, that’s why we were able to craft the regional learning recovery plan,” the DepEd Bicol chief stated.
Focusing on Grades One to Three, DepEd Bicol implemented the LRP, targeting curriculum, assessment and instruction, academic support and teacher development.
Regional write shops were conducted for the development of lesson maps, worksheets and learning guides in Mother Tongue, Filipino, English and Mathematics, he said, along with the training of trainers for the implementation of the eight-week learning recovery program.
Assessment tools were also produced for the post-test after the 10-week implementation, he said.
Catanduanes was the first in the country to formulate the Learning Continuity Plan, SDS Collano said, with the division invited to present it to the National Capital Region.
She bared that among 106,000 Kinder and Grades 1 to 3 pupils, 10,257 were found to be needing recovery.
The division was able to achieve recovery among 9,098 or 88.7% of the deficient learners due to their significant recovery in the post-test.
Regarding the recent DepEd order regarding the wearing of uniforms, Dir. Sadsad said that it will not require pupils to wear uniforms as Bicol has a high poverty incidence.
He also clarified that there is no standing order not to fail pupils.
“We are given two weeks after the end of the school year to conduct remedial classes for poor performers,” he emphasized, but if the student does not recover especially without the parents’ help, then there is no option but to give a failing grade.