Days before the classes reopened, the Department of Education (DepEd) has not provided learning materials for the children with physical impairment, leaving the special education (SpEd) teachers with no choice but to be creative in making distance learning work.
In Coron town with 13 active local transmission cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), SpEd teachers tapped schools from other provinces for modules designed for the learners with disabilities.
“Nag-worry na kami kasi malapit na ‘yong pasukan wala pa ding binibigay and DepEd na modules. Nagtanong kami sa mga ibang teachers from Laguna and ibang division, nagbigay sila ng ideas at nag-share sila ng modules,” Manuel Bacarac, SpEd tacher 1 in Coron told Palawan News in a phone interview on Monday morning.
Coron Central School welcomed 34 learners with disabilities, ten of whom were hearing impaired; one is visually challenged; and the rest are categorized as learning disabled students; as the classes started on Monday. Bacarac said that they intend to visit all students in their homes because learners with special education needs require face-to-face instruction but are vulnerable to the coronavirus disease.
Parents’ active participation
Looking into the bright side, Bacarac said that the distance learning has shown enthusiasm from the parents to be actively involved in the education of their child with special needs.
“Dati kapag nagsasabi kami na may meeting, kakaunti lang ang nakakapunta. Ngayon, dahil sinabihan na namin sila na sila ang magtuturo sa mga anak nila, mas nakita ko na active na active sila,” Bacarac said.
Since most of the hearing impaired students do not know sign language, the teachers will teach the parents, who in return were tasked to help in teaching their child.
“Hindi pa sila marunong magsign language, parang useless ‘yong module kung ganon, kaya ‘yong mga nanay muna nauna bago ituturo nila sa anak nila,” Bacarac said.
Going the distance
Coron town has 23 barangays that stretches to up to 50 islands and islets. With the transportation concern posing as a hurdle for the SpEd teachers’ weekly home visit, the municipal government was asked to provide for the needs of the teachers.
“Kailangan may kasama kami para alam din ng IATF ang ginagawa namin. Karamihan kasi ng mga estudyante namin galing sa malalayong barangay, meron din na sa isla pa,” Bacarac said.
To maximize their time and resources, Veronica Riñon, SpEd teacherfor visually impaired atudents in Coron, said that at least two days would be spent in the islands for the students.
“Naka-plano na para hindi sayang ‘yong pagpunta sa mga isla, kailangan mejo matagal siguro dalawang araw para maraming magawa at maituro,” Riñon said.
According to DepEd’s Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan, face-to-face instruction for learners with disabilities would be allowed only in “very low-risk areas” such as geographically isolated, disadvantaged, and conflict-affected areas with no history of COVID-19 infection to safeguard the learners who were part of the vulnerable group.
Data from DepEd showed that only 1.4 percent or more than 71,000 non-graded learners out of more than 5 million children with disabilities in the Philippines were enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year as of September.