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DepEd sets up Balik Eskwela info, action centers nationwide

Students' concerns for the June 5 opening of classes will be addressed with the setting up nationwide of information and action centers at schools under the "Opland Balik Eskwela" program, the Department of Education said Thursday.

But DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones has announced a caveat: "Generally, we are ready but we can still expect shortages in some resources."

Briones noted that schools nationwide still lack around 47,000 classrooms, and some 53,000 high school teachers.

In a press conference at the DepEd Central Office on Thursday, Briones also said that the department has allotted more hotlines to accommodate school opening-related requests, complaints, and suggestions.

DepEd command centers, she added,  will remain open until June 16, while concerns will be accommodated from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Sunday.

For his part, DepEd Undersecretary Jesus Mateo made a reminder that the first batch of Grade 12 learners under the K to 12 program are set to troop to their senior high school classes nationwide.

On the other hand, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), said the agency will be deploying a total of 2,296 traffic discipline office (TDO) personnel along roads and streets leading to schools that are usually prone to traffic congestion.

Meanwhile, P/Supt. Ramon Pranada, chief of District Operations and Plans Division (DOPD) of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), said police intelligence teams will be deployed near school premises and other crime-prone areas.

Police Assistance Desks (PADs) will also be available near schools, in coordination with concerned school officials.

DepEd's data show that for the school year 2017-2018, the number of those enrolled is from 26 to 27 million, for both public and private schools.

It added that the influx of students to Iligan and Cagayan de Oro Cities are expected to rise as most residents of Marawi City have evacuated as a result of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group attack on the city.

DepEd coordinates with different partner agencies comprising Oplan Balik Eskwela Inter-Agency Task Force (OBE-IATF) to ensure that schools are prepared for the opening of classes.

Partner agencies under the OBE-IATF include the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Department of National Defense (DND).

Other partner agencies are the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). —LBG, GMA News