DepEd alters Brigada Eskwela, Oplan Balik Eskwela implementation as pandemic continues

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2020 12:48 PM

Volunteers continue clean-up and refurbishing of a school in San Jose-Rodriguez in the Province of Rizal North of Manila on May 24, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – After the start of the school year was moved to August, the coronavirus crisis has prompted changes in the run-up to the opening of classes.

The Department of Education (DepEd) said Thursday that the conduct of Brigada Eskwela and Oplan Balik Eskwela, annual activities held in preparation for the opening of classes, have been altered as the country continued to face the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both activities, which were supposed to take place this May, will now be held from June 1 to August 29, according to a department memorandum. 

Under the new Brigada Eskwela, the DepEd and schools would engage with partners from both the public and private sectors to provide the needs of students in the coming school year.

The traditional Brigada Eskwela involved cleanups and repairs of school facilities and buildings, with students, teachers and volunteers participating in the effort. 

“The new concept of Brigada Eskwela shall focus on preparations and strengthening partnership engagement to ensure that learning continues even in the time of COVID-19,” the DepEd said.

The DepEd ordered school heads to raise the availability of the following items in school:

• Thermal scanners
• Hand-sanitizing materials such as rubbing alcohol and soap
• Face masks
• Multivitamin capsules, tablets or syrups for DepEd personnel and students
• Printing of information material on COVID-19 and sanitation/proper hand wash and hygiene
• Printing of materials and provision of supplies for distance learning such as bond papers, work sheets, notebooks, pens, pencils, and coloring materials

Schools are set to implement distance learning as an alternative to physical classes, which have been discouraged to avoid exposing students and teachers to COVID-19.

School heads must also coordinate with the local government, non-government organizations and volunteers to clean and disinfect school buildings, the DepEd said.

The traditional Brigada Eskwela may still be done 2 weeks before the opening of classes on August 24 depending on the risk classification and community quarantine guidelines of the school’s locality, according to the DepEd.

Schools that will hold cleanups and repairs must strictly observe health and safety measures, such as social distancing, the DepEd said.

A national Brigada Eskwela kick-off program will be held online on June 1, the agency said.

For Oplan Balik Eskwela, the DepEd said it would set up a Public Assistance Command Center at the central office, with counterparts at its regional and schools division offices.

Oplan Balik Eskwela will continue to address queries on enrollment, class opening, and DepEd policies, the agency said.

The DepEd said it would also partner with other government agencies to provide guidelines on “health and safety, peace and order, and transportation in the context of COVID-19 to ensure the safe conduct of any allowed face-to-face pre-opening and opening school activities.”

The slogan for both activities this year will be “Bayanihan sa Paaralan,” the DepEd said.

“The slogan highlights the application of knowledge and convergence of efforts to address the required health standards and social issues at home, in school, and in the community in the context of COVID-19,” the agency said.