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Salceda lauds “largely successful” pilot face-to-face classes, urges DepEd to address remaining gaps before full return to physical lessons; House econ recovery co-chair hopes for fully open schools by August

January 25th, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) lauded the Department of Education’s “largely successful” conduct of pilot face-to-face, and urged the Department to address remaining gaps found by civil society organizations in their inspection of the pilot implementation of face-to-face instruction in public schools, prior to full resumption of onsite classes.

Inspections by Center for Youth Advocacy and Monitoring (CYAN) and G-Watch (Government Watch)—an independent national action research organization found that service or shuttle services for teachers remained the largest area of non-compliance among pilot schools. The inspections also found the pilot program partly deficient in the schedule of classes (every other week), 1-to-1 textbook ratio, and funding support for pilot schools.

“The pilot program appears to have been largely successful, and I commend the Department of Education for their efforts to prepare us for full reopening of the schools. At this rate, I am optimistic that we can reopen schools by August or September. The pilot implementation also helped us identify certain gaps that we can fill before full implementation,” Salceda said.

“There are still some measures that we can do to make the implementation more convenient and safer for teachers and students alike. Service shuttles for teachers who do not live in the same municipality they serve appears to be the most specific request,” Salceda said.

“There are also teachers with comorbidities, so we have to address this as well,” Salceda added.

Salceda also emphasized the need for adequate learning materials during the face-to-face classes.

“Of course, students not having to share learning materials is a social distancing measure. So, I hope the deficiencies in learning materials need to be addressed. Around a quarter of schools inspected appears to have gaps in this area.”

“We increased the budget for learning materials significantly in the 2022 budget, so the resources should be there.”

School reopening ‘urgent’ part of transition to next admin

Salceda also said that the Department of Education must prepare a transition plan to the next administration that includes how to reopen the schools safely, as “the next administration will probably be the one to reopen public schools.”

“I think we will have schools fully open by August or September. That’s the next administration’s concern already, but preparations have to be done during this administration.”

“That is why the DepEd has to prepare a class reopening playbook that the next administration can implement as some sort of plug-and-play manual. The next administration must not be back to zero when it inherits the public school system,” Salceda added.

Salceda earlier also requested the Department of Education to formulate a catch-up plan to address learning gaps due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reopening of classes is central to that catch-up strategy. So, we need to get this right, and get it right soon.” #

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