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#WalangPasok: LGUs, Local DepEd Offices Declare Academic Health Break

#WalangPasok: LGUs, Local DepEd Offices Declare Academic Health Break
A public school teacher records video lessons for her elementary school students ahead of the start of online classes in this file photo by Philippine STAR’s Michael Varcas.

Various local government units (LGUs) and local offices of the Department of Education (DepEd) have suspended classes due to rising COVID-19 cases.

In Metro Manila, DepEd regional director Wilfredo Cabral issued a memorandum suspending classes in public kindergarten, elementary and high schools from Jan. 15 to 22 “to ease the health burden caused by the surge of COVID-19 cases to the physical and mental well-being of the school personnel and learners.”

He said classes shall resume on Jan. 24 to 29 on purely asynchronous distance learning modalities.

“For the duration of the suspension of classes, it is expected that physical reporting of teachers will not be required by the school heads,” Cabral said.

“The mid-year break scheduled on Jan. 31 to Feb. 5, 2022 shall be utilized by the learners to comply with backlogs in learning outputs while teachers are expected to attend to their usual activities including in-service trainings and other learning related undertakings,” he added.

The second quarter examinations are scheduled for Feb. 7 and 8, with Feb. 9 set as the start of the third grading period.

“The lost contact days shall be compensated by mechanisms such as independent study, remediation, enhancement activities and other related teaching-learning interactions,” the DepEd said.

Citing an earlier memorandum issued by the central office, Cabral said private schools – in consultation with their respective parents’ associations – may exercise their own discretion relative to the suspension of classes.

They may also adopt measures stipulated in the memorandum that he issued, he added.

Several Metro Manila LGUs also declared class suspensions covering private schools and higher education institutions. These include:

  • Manila (all levels, public and private) – Jan. 14 to 21, 2022
  • Marikina (all levels, public and private) – Jan. 17 to 29, 2022
  • Pasay (all levels, public and private) – Jan. 15 to 22, 2022
  • Valenzuela (all levels, public and private) – Jan. 15 to 22, 2022

Longer break in Calabarzon

In another memorandum, DepEd-Region 4A Calabarzon regional director Francis Cesar Bringas also declared the suspension of classes in the region from Jan. 17 to 29 “to foster academic ease.”

The suspension covers public kindergarten, elementary and high schools in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon City.

The memorandum emphasized that the suspension “includes all other school activities, whether physical or virtual (online), that involve school-based personnel, learners, and parents.”

On Jan. 12, DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said the department cannot declare a national academic break as COVID-19 situations on the ground are different in every area.

He urged regional and schools division offices to use their discretion in suspending classes and other teaching-related activities due to the rise of infections.

“As the country experiences an alarming surge in COVID-19 and in consideration of teachers’ and learners’ health and well-being, the Department of Education urges Regional Offices (ROs) and/or Schools Division Offices (SDOs) to exercise discretion in suspending classes and other teaching-related activities,” San Antonio said.

“Given the varying health situations in different areas, the ROs/SDOs are given the option, based on their reliable assessment of the health status of their teachers and learners and the IATF risk classification, to declare suspension of classes within the month of January 2022,” he added.

San Antonio allowed the DepEd local offices to decide on the specific dates and number of days “for the suspension of classes as long as the period of class suspension does not exceed two weeks in order to avoid a prolonged disruption in the current school calendar.

Other local DepEd offices that declared suspension of classes in public kindergarten, elementary and high schools were:

Some LGUs also issued their respective declarations of class suspensions. These include:

The Commission on Higher Education earlier said that at least 126 higher education institutions (HEIs) have implemented an “academic health break.”

CHED chairperson J. Prospero De Vera III added that another 123 HEIs would either impose or extend their academic break toward the end of the January as the number of positive cases remains high.

Universities Declare ‘Academic Health Break’; DepEd Lets School Divisions Decide On Class Suspensions

While they welcome the declaration of academic health break in some areas, teachers’ organizations expressed disappointment over DepEd’s decision to let its local office decide on the matter.

Teachers’ Dignity Coalition national chairman Benjo Basas said the varying impositions of academic break for different regions might confuse teachers, students and even parents. 

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers, meanwhile, thanked the local government units and local DepEd offices, but reiterated their call for a two-week health break in all areas under Alert Level 3. – With Rainier Allan Ronda, Rick Sapnu, Emmanuel Tupas