TEMPORARY SPACES. Education spokesperson Michael Poa discusses updates on the situation of damaged schools in Northern Luzon, in a press briefing on Thursday (Aug. 4, 2022). Poa assured the public they are looking for temporary spaces to ensure the reopening of classes on Aug. 22 in quake-affected areas. (PNA Photo/ Alfred Frias)

MANILA – Locally available spaces such as barangay covered courts and even unused rooms are being considered for the reopening of classes on Aug. 22 in quake-hit areas, the Department of Education (DepEd) said Thursday.

In a joint press briefing, DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said they are closely coordinating with the local government units.

“We are coordinating with LGUs, specifically the barangay kung meron pa silang places (if they have available places), like a basketball court, rooms that they are not using, were also looking at taping into the private sector kung meron silang maibibigay na room para sa ating mga learner (if they have rooms to give for our learners), but that’s an option aside from option of putting temporary learning spaces itself,” he said.

Besides existing spaces, Poa said their team is already on the ground to assess how many temporary learning spaces are needed to be built, which takes at least three days to be built.

“The other day pa lang nandoon na si Usec. Escobedo noh, ang ating Undersecretary for field operation (Since the other day, Usec. (Revsee) Escobedo was there, our undersecretary for field operation). He’s on the ground. He was in Abra. He’s looking at the locations na po na talagang kailangan ng temporary learning spaces, because we are really to do this immediately. Ngayon kung hindi natin magawa ‘yun, or hindi sufficient ‘yung magagawa natin (Now, if we can’t do it, or if it will be insufficient, then), we would also implement ‘yung alternative delivery modes which is under DepEd order No. 34,” he said.

DepEd’s latest estimated cost needed for recovery and reconstruction of schools has now reached PHP2.1 billion, with 456 schools totally damaged in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) alone.

But to ensure the proper implementation of minimum health protocols, the DepEd said that a blended learning mode will be considered for the safety of learners.

“Last Monday, Usec Chief-of-staff Epimaco Densing III ordered the creation of matrices from our regional directors, how many are the expected enrollees, how many classrooms are needed, and what are the actual resources we can use. So to ensure our safety protocols, aside from learning spaces, we are also considering blended learning and shifting of class schedules),” he said.

Quarantine facilities

Poa, meanwhile, clarified that they have already ordered the local government units to pull out quarantine facilities in schools to avoid parents’ hesitancy.

Poa noted that other LGUs have also committed to removing their facilities on school premises.

As of Thursday, municipalities with quarantine areas yet to be pulled out in some schools include Caloocan, Makati, Manila, Pasig and Valenzuela. (PNA)