MANILA — The Department of Education started Tuesday delivering learning materials to public schools students, who would be studying from their homes in the coming academic year as in-person classes are prohibited due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Malcolm Garma, director of the DepEd's National Capital Region (NCR) office, said the early delivery of "learner packages" would give the department more time to prepare for the opening of classes, scheduled on Oct. 5.
"We have scheduled the actual distribution of the learner packages starting September 1 and would last up until September 15," Garma said in a virtual press briefing on Monday.
"In NCR, we would like to do the delivery of the learner packages as early as possible so we can prepare better for the opening of classes," he said.
Garma said DepEd-NCR was prepared to deliver modules even if the capital region — an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country — would be placed under strict community quarantine statuses.
Some teachers and non-teaching personnel will physically report to offices for the delivery of learning materials, but must first undergo medical screening, he said.
The local government units in NCR are also helping schools deliver modules.
The delivery of learner packages comes even as some school division offices (SDOs) in Metro Manila have yet to finish printing the self-learning modules (SLMs).
Of the 16 SDOs, half are "80 to 100 percent" finished in the printing and production of modules, while 4 are "50 to 70 percent" complete, according to Garma.
The DepEd earlier explained that schools can use other learning materials aside from the SLMs as long as they are in line with the revised basic education curriculum.
Data from DepEd-NCR also showed that the 16 SDOs have achieved more than 100 percent of their target enrollment rate for the coming school year.
"The excess of the enrollment in most of the SDOs can be attributed to the migration of learners from private schools to the public schools," Garma said.
As of Aug. 28, over 2 million learners have enrolled in public schools in NCR, making it one of the regions with the most number of registered students along with neighboring Calabarzon and Central Luzon.
The average class size is around 45 students in elementary and junior high school, and 41 in senior high school, said Garma, noting that the figures were still subject to change as enrollment continued in public schools.
In the coming school year, students will be studying at home through printed and digital modules, online classes, television, and radio as campuses remain closed due to the threat of COVID-19.
The Philippines' total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections reached over 220,000 on Monday after the Department of Health reported 3,446 new cases.