By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) on Friday said that it is recommending the resumption of classes in Taal-affected schools – where suspension remains declared – by February 3.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in a press briefing, said that when it comes to the school calendar, schools that are deemed ready to reopen will resume classes. “As far as we are concerned – because things are calming down in certain places – in the schools which we believe can already be reopened and classes can be resumed, we start February 3.”
Latest DepEd data showed that 594, 228 learners in 1,079 schools remain affected by the Taal’s volcanic eruption in eight (8) divisions under Region IV-A. While classes in other affected areas have already resumed early this week, classes in five (5) divisions remain suspended. The suspension of classes at all levels in 5 DepEd divisions in Region IV-A are affecting 574, 717 learners in 1,054 schools. A total of 20, 676 of DepEd’s personnel are also affected by Taal’s unrest.
By February 3, Briones said that DepEd will continue to monitor the schools affected by the Taal eruption. “Let’s see what will be the situation in schools and then we will negotiate with the local governments,” she said since suspension of classes are usually declared by local government officials in coordination with local DepEd officials.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan clarified that not all Taal-affected schools may resume classes by February 3. “My understanding it is a timeline to have a definitive decision on which areas may resume classes even in the context of alert level 4,” he explained. “This will not be a unilateral decision of DepEd but inter-agency through disaster councils,” he added.
Students to go assessment
As the current school year nears its end, many parents in Taal-affected school express concern on the status of their children in schools. They even asked DepEd to allow their children to graduate or complete their respective grade levels despite missing school.
For Briones, this “may not be wise” since it would only suggest mass promotion. “Two days after the eruption, we directed nearby public schools to accept students who were displaced even without credentials,” she said. Students who wish to transfer to nearby public schools, she explained, may do so for them to catch up with the missed lessons. If the Taal’s unrest becomes stable, students may go back to their original schools “bringing along with them all the tests, quizzes covered in the grading period for computation.”
Furthermore, DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla also explained that students will continue learning through Alternative Delivery Modes (ADMs). “Before they graduate, they need to be assessed first,” she explained.
Briones noted that the DepEd Region IV-A – which is the most affected region – has already sent a proposal on possible adjustments in the current school calendar to make up for the lost school days due to the Taal’s unrest.