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50,000 schools shift to distance learning in the Philippines

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Department of Education (DepEd) has also not decided on proposals to start public school classes in September. He, however, said the holding of physical classes cannot be done in June as a precautionary measure against the virus. The STAR/Boy Santos. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, Oct 5, 2020, The Manila Times. 50,000 public schools in the Philippines open today, Monday, with students staying at home instead of going to classrooms as the government shifts to distance learning as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, The Manila Times reported.

On Sunday, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced it was “very prepared” to implement the new system, under which 24 million students will receive instruction through online, digital and printed modules, aided with television and radio.

“We are very prepared, and this was according to reports from our regional directors,” said Education Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio during a radio interview.

“When we say prepared, it means we have already taken contingencies into consideration to address problems we will be facing starting on Monday,” he added.

School opening day was postponed twice as the government continually adjusted its response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In-person classroom teaching was finally ruled out because it could lead to the further spread of the virus.

Another DepEd official lashed out at critics who claim that the department “mismanaged” preparations this school year by moving the opening of school twice.

“I’m sure if DepEd didn’t do anything at all in response to this crisis, they will also call it ‘mismanaged,’” Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla told a group of reporters.

Some organizations slammed the agency for not being able to provide one self-learning module (SLM) for each student and requiring teachers to work long hours, among other issues.

As a solution, San Antonio said DepEd plans to hire 10,000 more teachers and learner support aides.

Sevilla believes the department “was able to quickly respond, implement, transition and adapt to the ‘new structure and arrangements’ called for by this pandemic.”

“It may not be the perfect ‘100 percent ready’ which most of you are expecting…[but] it is the labor of love of the whole DepEd,” she said.

All 50,000 public schools nationwide will participate in distance learning.

School Year 2020-2021 will have 205 school days. The first academic quarter starts October 5 and ends November 28; second quarter, from December 1 to February 6; third quarter, from February 15 to April 10; and fourth quarter, April 12 to June 5.

Summer remedial classes could be conducted from June 14 until July 23 next year.

Under the revised guidelines for assessment and grading, periodic tests that are usually scheduled every quarter will be replaced with summative assessments of the students’ written works and performance tasks.

San Antonio recently said the no-periodic test policy does not apply to private schools, although they are encouraged to adopt it.

Written works will consist of quizzes and long units and tests, while performance tasks include skill demonstrations, group presentations, oral work, and research projects.

The department has released the weight distribution of summative assessments components of Grades 1 to 10.

For subjects Languages and Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) 40 percent of the grades will come from written works, and 60 from performance tasks.

Student’s aptitude in Math and Science subjects will be equally weighted through written and performance works at 50 percent.

The grades for Music Arts, Physical Education and Health; Edukasyong Pantahanan at Kabuhayan (Technology and Livelihood Education) will mostly be gauged through performance (70 percent), while written works will accounts for 30 percent.

DepEd also released the grading system for senior high school.

Students who chose Technical/Vocational, Sports, Arts and Design tracks, will have 70 percent of their grades derived from performance tasks, and 30 percent from written works.

For students under the Academic Track, their work immersion and research subjects will be equally weighted through written and performance works at 50 percent. All other subjects will be weighted through performance tasks (60 percent) and written works (40 percent.

In a related development, DepEd issued two landmark policies defining professional standards for school heads.

“The changes of various national and global frameworks in education and the changing characteristics of our 21st century learners necessitate a call for the rethinking of our professional standards for our school heads and supervisors,” Secretary Leonor Briones said.

The National Adoption and Implementation of the Philippine Professional Standards for School Heads, and the National Adoption and Implementation of the Philippine Professional Standards for Supervisors encourages the 43,448 school heads and 5,550 supervisors to strive for greater proficiency; provide support for professional learning and development; help identify development needs; and facilitate uniform assessment of performance.

The standards complement the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (PPST) that was adopted as DepEd policy in 2017 and is now used by over 800,000 public school teachers, Briones said.

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