HELPING HANDS. Parents and volunteers at the Sta. Ana National High School in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental participate in the “Brigada Eskwela”, a national program of the Department of Education, in this undated photo. It involves education sector stakeholders' help in preparing public schools before classes start. (Photo courtesy of Sta. Ana National HS)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Every school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) launches the “Brigada Eskwela” in public schools grounded on the Filipino spirit of bayanihan (cooperation).

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the program also known as the National Schools Maintenance Week underscores the importance of cooperation between the academe and the community.

At Sta. Ana National High School (SANHS) in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, “Brigada Eskwela” has become an annual ritual of sorts that even with the two-year disruption, parents, teachers, and learners still joined hands to make the resumption of face-to-face classes safe.

Clyde Villar, SANHS “Brigada Eskwela” coordinator, said the crisis brought by the pandemic has strengthened the resolve of the school and its partners to mobilize different sectors of the community.

“We will just do our best and God will do the rest,” he said in an interview Saturday. “If schools are well-prepared and conducive before the start of classes despite the presence of this pandemic, education will still push through safely.”

In the previous school year, SANHS had 1,438 students.

“We have five sections in SHS (senior high school), but for this school year, there's no exact number of how many sections will be added because enrollment is still ongoing,” said Ivan Jeff Emano, one of the teachers in the SANHS SHS department.

He said in SHS, each classroom can accommodate around 40 students.

However, at the current enrollment rate, he said the classroom-student radio may increase to 1:50, especially since DepEd has ordered full in-person classes by November.

He said “Brigada Eskwela” is crucial because it not only repairs chairs and refurbishes the classrooms but it is also a form of an inventory of what schools lack or need.

Earlier, Irene Cabunoc, Education Committee chair of the Barangay Sta. Ana Council, said projects for the SANHS community are among their major priorities in 2023.

Incoming Grade 11 student Jasmin Madid is expecting that face-to-face classes will be more rewarding and hopes that the students will be guided more in their learning journey despite the new challenges.

“With the help of ‘Brigada Eskwela’, the students would be more responsible about the environment conducive to learning,” she said in an interview.

Canesia Deladingco, whose child is in Grade 10, said with “Brigada”, students can start studying immediately at the start of school without having to allot time for cleaning.

“It's better to conduct face-to-face classes so that students will be guided by teachers,” she said, adding that returning to the classrooms eases some burdens off parents. (PNA)