DepEd dismisses calls for ‘academic freeze' as ‘shortsighted’ solution

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9) — The Department of Education on Wednesday opposed calls for "academic freeze" or suspension of classes in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, saying it is a "shortsighted" solution.

“We would like to dismiss this call as not something that is supported by the direction of DepEd for learning continuity,” DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said in a briefing.

“This position is shortsighted as it does not take into consideration the trade-off of prolonged interruption,” Malaluan pointed out.

Earlier, a private school group also rejected calls for academic freeze, saying its effects are “serious and compounding” such as learning loss.

Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations previously noted in an interview with CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Weekend that cancellation of classes at all levels since March to curb the spread of coronavirus wiped out at least half of the knowledge gained by students from last school year. COCOPEA said this means students "have lost almost one school year in terms of learning."

People online continue to push for the suspension of classes until the government is able to bring COVID-19 under control, as students and teachers share struggles in distance learning such as lack of gadgets and connectivity.

The Department of Education moved the opening of the 2020-2021 school year for kindergarten to high school to October 5 from August 24. But DepEd allowed some private basic educational institutions to hold classes before October 5 as long as these are limited to distance learning.

As of Wednesday, 24,305,551 have already enrolled in public and private educational institutions for the next academic year, according to Education Secretary Leonor Briones.

Based on a DepEd order, schools are allowed to accept late enrollees as long as learners will be able to "meet eighty percent of the prescribed number of school days for each school year and the quarterly requirement to pass the grade level as governed by the latest existing applicable DepEd issuances."