Calls for academic freeze dominate Twitter after DepEd announced moving of classes to October

August 14, 2020 - 6:54 PM
The DepEd's main office on Meralco Avenue, Pasig City. PHOTO FROM EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG

Calls to “freeze” the next academic year dominated Twitter following the Department of Education‘s announcement to move the opening of classes to October.

In a statement on Friday, on August 14, the DepEd announced that President Rodrigo Duterte approved its recommendation to move the opening of classes again from the scheduled August 24 to October 5.

This was the adjustment DepEd made amid the re-imposition of the modified enhanced community quarantine in Mega Manila, comprising of the National Capital Region and the surrounding provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna and Rizal which is scheduled to be lifted until August 18.

“As per the memorandum, the President has given approval to the recommendation of DepEd. Thus, we will implement such a decision to defer school opening to October 5 pursuant to Republic Act No. 11480,” DepEd said.

“We shall use the deferment to provide relief to the logistical limitations faced by the areas placed under MECQ and to fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening that we are currently addressing,” it added.

Areas outside of MECQ, meanwhile, are instructed “to continue their orientations, dry runs, and delivery of learning resources” for the official resumption of classes.

“We trust that this is the final adjustment of the school opening. Even with the implementation of MECQ, we will use this time to make the necessary adjustments and ensure that all preparations have been made for the successful opening of classes for School Year 2020-2021,” DepEd said.

Prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the academic year for 2020 to 2021 for primary and secondary schools was supposed to start in June.

Since the start of the lockdown last March, youth groups and some concerned students had been calling on DepEd and the Commission for Higher Education to suspend the online classes and implement tuition refunds.

#AcademicFreeze and other appeals

Following such development, the campaign to temporarily suspend or “freeze” the academic year until 2021 through the hashtag #AcademicFreezeNOW was renewed on Twitter, along with the names “DepEd” and “CHED,” as Filipinos voiced out their frustrations and disapproval against the government’s decision.

As of writing, the key words “CHED” and “DepEd” gained more than 50,000 and 47,000 tweets, respectively, while the hashtag earned over 9,900 tweets.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Various sentiments online include relief over the rescheduled opening of classes as well as calls to seek the suspension of classes on all levels.

“Moving classes on October 5 shows that our country is not ready for this mode of learning. You prolong the agony of everyone within the scope,” one user said.

“Academic freeze is possibly the best solution to our problem right since it is very unfair for those who aren’t able to go to school and for those who don’t have the means to support their children financially for this school year,” another user said.

Some Twitter users also asked the CHED follow suit and also halt classes in colleges and universities. DepEd only covers primary and secondary schools.

One user noted that CHED should also be more considerate to college students because they are the ones who will become part of the workforce soon.

“Would you send unarmed soldiers to a battle? Online classes would be pure theory, not practice,” the user said.

Through hashtag #PisoParaSaLaptop, some students from elementary to tertiary schools recently sought for donations to fund their own laptops or similar devices that were supposed to be used for the looming online classes.

Flexible learning or mixed online-offline learning for CHED

Similar to DepEd’s blended or distance learning strategy, CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III also implemented an alternative solution to learning amid the pandemic called “flexible learning.”

In a press briefing last July, De Vera explained that “flexible learning” means colleges and universities are allowed to choose digital, non-digital or the combination of both alternative modes of learning that is effective to both their students and teachers.

To prevent transmissions of the virus that causes COVID-19, he also stressed that there won’t be regular face-to-face classes in August.

“CHED wants to make it very clear that higher education institutions (HEIs) will open the semester in August using flexible learning mode. There are no regular face-to-face classes in August,” he said.

In an interview with CNN Philippines on August 11, De Vera admitted that preparing the faculty for this new system is the “greatest challenge” they are experiencing right now, citing teachers who have not done flexible learning before.

“Ang pinakamalaking problema talaga ay yung kahandaan ng mga faculty dahil maraming faculty members ang hindi gumagamit ng flexible learning dati, at ngayon ay nagka-crash course sila,” he said.

CHED previously conducted free training to teachers on how to conduct flexible learning amid the pandemic.