By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) has lifted the moratorium on educational field trips with the issuance of new implementing guidelines on the conduct of off-campus activities for all public and private elementary and secondary schools.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in DepEd order no. 66 series of 2017 issued December 27, announced that the DepEd Memorandum No. 47 series of 2017 or the “Moratorium on Educational Field trips and Other Similar Activities” has been lifted upon the effectivity of guidelines on the conduct of co-curricular and extracurricular off-campus activities for both public and private schools nationwide.
Briones said the new guidelines are issued “in support of the K to 12 curriculum implementation.” She also stressed that “all co-curricular and extracurricular activities” should adhere to the new guidelines set by the DepEd.
Particularly, all public and private schools are asked to “ensure relevance and alignment with the educational competencies of the K to 12 Curriculum and leadership development of learners;” “uphold child protection principles and that no learner shall be disadvantaged in any form;” and “observe the safety and security protocols for all participants before, during and after the activity.”
Voluntary, no grade equivalent
DepEd reminded that participation – especially by learners – in co-and extracurricular activities will be voluntary. “No learner shall be required to participate in any off-campus activity,” DepEd stressed.
The guidelines also directed that “all co-curricular and extracurricular shall have no grade requirement.” Likewise, “all nonparticipating learners shall not be required with any special projects and/ or examination or any form of school requirements.” It was noted that the school head “shall ensure that off-campus activities will, in no way, disrupt classes.”
Travel insurance will now be mandatory. DepEd said “securing travel insurance is mandatory for all off-campus activities” thus, “no one shall be allowed to join off-campus activities without travel insurance.”
Safety is priority
DepEd underscored the need to prepare for off-campus activities particularly on planning, safety and security measures, site selection for field trips/educational trips, service providers, provision for learners with special needs, parents/guardian conference and predeparture briefing.
To ensure the participants’ safety, DepEd directed all schools and other concerned offices to “prepare a plan and seek approval of concerned authorities.” The said plan “should take into account the learners’ diversity, context and needs.” Parents are requested to have an “active involvement in the planning of off-campus activities.” Private schools, on the other hand, may also “adopt their own planning process to ensure that off-campus activities are aligned with the curriculum and will help attain educational competencies.”
Among the safety and security measures to be observed during the off-campus activity is the “buddy system” and the wearing of “learner safety and emergency card” with the learners’ emergency contact details – among others.
During the activity proper, DepEd said involved stakeholders should observe the guidelines “with due diligence” – particularly following school rules; inspection of vehicle; signing a manifest before leaving the school premises and upon return to school; tracking or head count; briefing upon arrival; close supervision of learners, and post-activity vehicle check. DepEd also stressed that learners who join an off-campus activity will only be dropped off at the designated waiting area in school. “Elementary learners shall not be allowed to leave school premises without their fetchers.”
DepEd warned that “any violation of abuse of the said order” shall be dealt with accordingly.
In support of K to 12
In the implementing guidelines, DepEd stressed that in support of the learning process of students, “relevant off-campus activities are being implemented by the DepEd at the different governance levels to supplement and enhance classroom-based theories and concepts with immersive activity-based learning experiences.”
While it recognizes the “relevance of off-campus activities vis-à-vis the K to 12 curriculum,” the “safety and security” of all participants particularly the learners, parents or guardians and DepEd personnel “should be highly considered.”
The newly established guidelines, standards and procedures in the conduct of off-campus activities involving learners, teachers and relevant offices, DepEd said, should also help ensure that the participants get the “maximize gains from such activity and ensure its alignment with the overall learning outcomes.”
DepEd said the policy covers the implementation and management of co-curricular and extra off-campus activities in all schools. “Additionally, this policy aims to provide general and specific guidelines pertaining to the roles of relevant stakeholders, safety and security measures, and accountability mechanisms,” it added.
Off-campus activities, DepEd reminded, “shall not be used as a means to raise funds for the school or an association.” Likewise, “all curricular and nationally mandated off-campus activities shall be subject to existing policies governing them.”
As defined, an off-campus activity refers to an “authorized activity relevant to learning that takes place outside the school premises, participated by learners and supervised by teachers and/staff and other concerned stakeholders.” It can be “co-curricular” or an “extracurricular” activity.
In the said guidelines, off-campus activities were also categorized which are either DepEd-mandated and initiated which are conducted “in support of the K to 12 curriculum implementation and the holistic development of learners;” externally initiated or “activities that require approval from DepEd authorize per governance level;” or school-initiated or “field trips/educational tours [that] are supplemental activities only.”
The roles and responsibilities of concerned DepEd offices and officials were also laid out in the new guidelines. It was noted that the overall policy guidance will come from the Office of the Undersecretaries for Planning and Field Operations and Curriculum and Instruction, respectively. the Bureaus of Learner Support Services; Learner Delivery; and Curriculum Development are tasked to oversee the implementation of the said guidelines as well as resolving emerging issues, motoring, and regular review of the said policy.
Tags: Department of Education (DepEd), DepEd order no. 66, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Manila Bulletin, off-campus activities, “Moratorium on Educational Field trips and Other Similar Activities”