MANILA, Nov 8 (Mabuhay) — Almost 98 percent of public schools nationwide have joined the full face-to-face classes on November 2, the Department of Education said Monday.

DepEd Spokesman Michael Poa (Facebook page photo)

In a press briefing, Education spokesperson Michael Poa said only 2.36 percent have resorted to blended learning modality, adding that “97.5 percent po ng lahat ng public schools ay nag-implement na po ng five-day in-person classes… Ito pong (97.5 percent of all public schools have implemented five-day in-person classes… This) blended learning, I would have to emphasize na this is a moving number.”

Generally, the transition to a full in-person setup went smoothly except for typhoon-hit areas, he said.

“Naging maayos ‘yung pagre-resume natin ng classes. Wala naman tayong major incidents although syempre, mayroon pa rin tayong apektadong schools dahil pa rin po sa typhoon Paeng (The resumption of classes went smoothly. No major incidents were reported. But of course, there were still the affected schools due to Typhoon Paeng),” he added.

Poa said schools that conducted blended learning were either used as evacuation centers or have sustained infrastructure damage or still under cleanup operations.

As of November 6, at least 435 schools are still being used as evacuation centers while 324 schools have sustained infrastructure damage.

“Tayo naman po ay nakikipag-ugnayan na sa mga LGUs, na ma-decamp na kung pwede ‘yung ating mga paaralan (We are already coordinating with the local government units if our schools could be decamped),” Poa said.

The DepEd, meanwhile, assured the downloading of necessary funds for the cleanup and building of temporary learning spaces.

Besides the effects of Paeng, some Metro Manila schools also faced challenges due to congestion.

“At least sa NCR, talagang may congestion that’s why may mga schools tayo na ipagpatuloy ang blended learning modality (At least in NCR [National Capital Region], there is really congestion. That’s why there are schools still continuing the blended learning modality),” Poa said.

Padrino system

Meanwhile, the DepEd defended Department Order 49, saying it only reiterates existing civil service policies and intends to uphold professionalism among employees.

“You know what we are trying to depoliticize here is the padrino system, basically… Parati nating sinasabi na ah basta may padrino ka, dun lang matutugunan ‘yung request mo (We always say that as long as you have connections, that will only be the time that your request shall be responded to). And that’s not true. We in DepEd, we want to be as responsive as we can to the needs of our teachers and our personnel,” Poa said.

He added that the DepEd has its “proper channels” and even a direct line to the office of the secretary, denying that DO 49 infringes on teachers’ and personnel’s freedom of expression.

The DepEd clarified that communication on social media between teachers and learners is not discouraged, as long as it covers class instructions.

“What are we discouraging? ‘Yung communication outside the school setting… For as long as we’re talking about instruction, as long as we’re talking class matters, hindi po ‘yan outside the school setting. Ano po ba ‘yung gusto nating ma-discourage dito? ‘Yung nagiging very personal na ‘yung relationship between the teacher and the learner (That’s not outside the school setting. What do we want to be discouraged about? The [instances] were relationships between teacher and learner become very personal),” he said.

Vice President and Education Chief Sara Duterte earlier said the DO 49 also aims to protect teachers and learners from criminal activities, whether they be suspects or victims, recalling the instances of sexual harassment against learners, and a teacher being killed by a learner.

As of now, teachers involved in alleged sexual harassment in Cavite are under preventive suspension while the probe is ongoing. (MNS)