MANILA — As schools across the country continued to conduct dry runs of the implementation of distance learning, educators have identified several challenges with the new way of delivering lessons to students at home.
Among them are the distances that teachers have to cover in order to distribute self-learning modules (SLMs) to their students' houses, according to Estela Cariño, director of the Department of Education's office in the Cagayan Valley region.
"One of the major challenges experienced by the teacher, of course, would be the distance of the houses of these learners and the kind of road that they have to pass through, some have to cross rivers," Cariño said in a virtual press briefing on Monday.
Cariño also said there are learners who do not have parents that could help them in studying their lessons at home while there are parents who answer the SLMs for their children.
To resolve these issues, Cariño said the DepEd in Cagayan Valley is coordinating with local officials and law enforcers to help teachers in distributing the SLMs.
Distribution and retrieval of SLMs will be done quarterly in coastal areas and monthly in the mainland to avoid constantly exposing teachers to the threat of COVID-19, said Cariño.
Schools also assigned "para-teachers" to guide learners at home while teachers living in certain barangays or puroks were instructed to tutor the learners in their community, she added.
Cariño also appealed to parents to refrain from answering the self-learning modules so their children could truly learn.
"The time is quite long for their children to really answer it by themselves and some teachers will really be guiding them," she said.
Cariño also shared that only few schools in the region would be doing online learning due to unstable internet connectivity.
Rowen Ursolina, who teaches at Alabat Island National High School in Quezon province, admitted that "living in an island is already a challenge" for distance learning.
Alabat Island National High School will also be coordinating with local officials to distribute and retrieve learning modules.
Teachers in the island are also concerned that their students may not be the ones answering the activity sheets, Ursolina said.
"We are not sure na sila nga ba ang sumagot sa activity sheets na aming pinadala so iyong po ay aming gagawan ng paraan," she said.
(We are not sure if they're the ones answering the activity sheets that we sent so we're going to find a way to address that.)
Teachers in the island will also do "home visits," especially to students whose parents are unable to teach them, said Ursolina.
Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio earlier said the pandemic was the perfect time for parents to teach their children honesty in answering learning materials.
Under the learning continuity plan, the department offered schools a "menu" of ways to deliver lessons to students: printed and digital modules, online classes, television, and radio.
The DepEd has given schools the freedom to decide which learning modality to implement, depending on the available resources and what is most suitable to the students.
In-person classes remain prohibited pending the availability of a vaccine against COVID-19, which has infected over 217,000 in the country.
Classes in public schools are scheduled to start on October 5. Private schools, meanwhile, are allowed to start earlier as long as they implement distance learning.