1.9M students ‘return’ to school

·4 min read

THE classes for school year 2021-2022 in public basic education schools in the Philippines officially start Monday, September 13, 2021, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with nearly two million students in Central Visayas enrolled two days before the opening of classes.

Some private schools in the region started ahead of September 13.

Department of Education (DepEd) 7 Director Salustiano Jimenez said some of the challenges they encountered ahead of the opening of this school year are the enrolment and the budget.

“(We) need the data before the start of classes so teachers can prepare well the needed materials; of course, budget, that’s why (we) need more engagement with stakeholders,” he told SunStar Cebu.

Jimenez said the modules’ budget from its pool central office is downloaded to the regional office and then to the schools division offices based on enrolment data.

However, he said, they need the budget for other needs in schools too such as alcohol, masks and face shields for its teaching and non-teaching personnel because the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) budget is not enough.

Central Visayas has about 82,000 teaching and non-teaching personnel, of which around 79,000 are teachers.

He said the enrolment as of Saturday, Sept. 11, was at 1,877,857. This is about 92 percent of DepEd 7’s target for this school year, which is two million enrollees.

Of these, 114,693 are private basic education school enrollees.

He, however, expects more data on enrolment from private schools as they usually submit their final lists of enrolment late.

He said it has also been a practice by some parents and guardians to enrol their children during the first few weeks of classes.

Back in business

Of the about 70 private schools which declared temporary closure or halted their operations last school year, six have secured special permits to operate again this school year, Jimenez said.

Four of these schools are Cebu-based, particularly in Lapu-Lapu City, while the rest are in Negros Oriental and Bohol.

Though some schools already started the distribution of printed learning modules last week, some schools also opt to distribute the modules this Monday, the first day for the new school year.

Meanwhile, he said based on his data, there are fewer than 10 active Covid-19 cases involving public school teachers in the region.

As for vaccination among DepEd 7 employees, Jimenez said around 20,000 teachers have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while around 15,000 are fully vaccinated.

“We reached 40 percent vaccinated for both teaching and non-teaching personnel in Central Visayas. For the regional office, 129 are vaccinated out of 134 (97 percent); 57 percent are awaiting their schedule while around three to four percent are hesitant and we are still advocating,” he said.

He then congratulated the learners for surviving the previous school year, which was completed without their going to classrooms.

He also called on the students to help them pray that the limited face-to-face classes will soon be implemented as schools have already included in their preparations the possibility of the gradual shift to limited face-to-face classes.

Sought for comment, Cyril Bacalso, a mother of an elementary and a junior high school student in a private school, said she is still apprehensive to let her children attend limited face-to-face classes.

“With the Delta variant now, I am not ready yet even if gradual limited face-to-face. I won’t sacrifice my kids’ safety,” she said.

She said with distance learning, her children learned early what is independence and they have adjusted already to online learning.

She said it also helped that her children’s school had a review, two weeks before the start of classes, of the lessons tackled in the previous years and had assessment tests as a gauge for teachers on where to focus and start with the lessons.

“(As for) preparations, nothing much. I just let them read some books, more of reading comprehension since that’s what students lack. They can answer the 5Ws. But as to analysis and giving their opinions, they (still) have to master that, I believe,” she said. (WBS)

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