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To DepEd: Provide psychosocial support to distressed learners amid health crisis

In its intent to leverage online platforms for continued learning delivery, Senator Win Gatchalian said the Department of Education (DepEd) should maximize using the same tool to provide psychosocial support to distressed learners especially with an extended Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).


MONKAYO, DAVAO DE ORO, Philippines – Life before the COVID-19 pandemic enables these schoolchildren to safely walk home after classes, as seen in this agricultural and mining town south of Manila, 20 June 2019 file. Parents are advised to maintain a sense of normalcy by keeping regular routines and schedules as much as possible and devote more time to “homeschooling” their children the best way they possibly can during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Under DepEd memorandum No.042 s. 2020 issued last March 15, teachers can explore the “Online Alternative Learning Delivery Platforms” identified by the DepEd’s Information and Communication Technology Service (ICTS) for delivering distance learning during periods of class suspensions and similar circumstances.

According to Gatchalian, the disruption of school in an outbreak makes learners vulnerable to stress and anxiety. Not being able to see their friends in school, contemplating on whether or not they passed this school year due to the sudden vacation, and being locked up at home with no assurance when they can go out and play are just some factors that contribute to their stressful environment.

In providing psychosocial and mental health support to learners who are coping with the effects of the public health emergency, Gatchalian said teachers and guidance counselors should be equipped with appropriate guidelines and tools.

Gatchalian cited the “Key Messages and Actions for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools” prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) as a useful material that could guide policies of the education department in providing psychosocial support to students.

Based on the recommendations of these organizations, teachers should make students feel that it is normal to have concerns and reactions during this time of crisis. Teachers should encourage learners to raise their concerns and guide them on how they can support peers and prevent exclusion and bullying from taking place.

Gatchalian added that schools should foster parent participation in providing support to these learners. Like teachers, parents are expected to acknowledge their children’s concerns and provide information in an appropriate manner. Parents should also make sure that learners are given ample time to play and relax.

“Sa mga ganitong panahon importanteng iparating natin sa mga mag-aaral na nauunawaan natin ang kanilang mga pangamba at maipaliwanag natin sa kanila na bagama’t hindi nila nakakasama ang kanilang mga guro, mga kaklase, at mga kaibigan, magpapatuloy pa rin ang kanilang pag-aaral sa isang ligtas at mabisang paraan,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.