DepEd eyes smaller class size in schools for upcoming academic year

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 29) — The Department of Education is planning to reduce the number of students in a class to 15 to 20 in accordance with the COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures, an official said Wednesday.

"Unang-una, ine-expect natin na pagdating sa school opening natin ngayong pasukan, maliliit 'yung classes natin, primarily dahil kailangan natin 'yung strict social distancing measures," Abram Abanil, Director for Information and Communication Technology Services of DepEd, said in a press media briefing. "We expect na magkakaroon lang ng mga 15 to 20 students bawat klase pagdating nitong upcoming school opening."

[Translation: First and foremost, we expect that in the upcoming school opening, we will have a smaller class size, primarily because we need to follow the strict social distancing measures. We expect that there will only be 15 to 20 students in every class in the upcoming school opening.]

The DepEd said it will provide alternative modes of learning for grade school and high school students with the use of technology and paper-based activities.

"Ang ibang mga bata, ine-expect natin na du'n na sila sa bahay," Abanil said. "Hindi naman sila nandu'n lang bahay para walang gawin; kailangan din silang mapagtuloy sa kanilang mga pag-aaral."

[Translation: We expect that some students will remain in their houses. But they should not stay in their homes doing nothing; they have to continue studying.]

Abanil added they will make electronic books available on the DepEd website for students' use.

"Bawat linggo, magkakaroon ng e-book for each grade level and each subject area," he said. "Ine-expect namin, kailangan namin mag-produce ng mga 60 e-books for each week."

[Translation: Every week, there will be an e-book for a corresponding subject and grade level. We expect that we will have to produce about 60 e-books each week.]

The Education Department also urged parents to personally guide their children and act as their "teachers," so they will be motivated to study, even if they are home quarantined.

In the same briefing, Abelardo David, Executive Director of the Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC), reiterated the call, saying parents are the first learning facilitators of their children.

"Tayo ang pangunahing mga guro sa ating mga tahanan," he said. "Mahalaga na kunin natin ang pagkakataon na ito para lubos na makilala natin ang ating mga anak."

[Translation: We are the primary teachers in our houses. It's important that we use this opportunity to get to know our children even more.]

"Kailangan tanggapin ng mga magulang na sila ay therapists at teachers sa bahay," he added. "Tayo rin po ay mag-establish ng practical at functional routine, hindi 'yung hahayaan lang natin sila."

[Translation: Parents must accept that they are therapists and teachers at home. They should also establish practical and functional routine for their children, and not just leave them alone.]

The ILLC shared that it is also coordinating with DepEd for the studying methods of children with special needs, as the country continues to adapt to the "new normal." It said it is looking at imposing an individualized education program (IEP), where teachers, therapists, and doctors will plot specific plans to address the learning needs of every child.

Meanwhile, the DepEd noted that it has already begun disinfecting its schools to prepare for the upcoming school year. It added that it is working on setting up quarantine facilities.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force to move the opening of School Year 2020-2021 to September.