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DepEd lifts moratorium on field trips, imposes stricter safety guidelines

The Department of Education (DepEd) has issued a memorandum lifting the ban on field trips, which has been in effect since March 9, 2017 per DepEd Memorandum No. 47 following a bus accident in Tanay, Rizal that claimed the lives of over a dozen students.

On Dec. 27, 2017, Education Secretary Leonor Briones issued Department Order 66 or the "Implementing Guidelines on the Conduct of Off-Campus Activities," which "establishes the guidelines on the conduct of co-curricular and extra-curricular off-campus activities for public and private schools."

The Order addresses the lapses in safety standards that prompted the issuance of DepEd Memorandum No. 47 and set clearer guidelines for service providers partnering with the schools.

"Vehicles, most especially those arranged with external transportation operators shall be duly certified by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) / Land Transportation Office (LTO). Vehicles should not be more than 10 years old as of the scheduled date of the off-campus activity reckoned from the year of manufacture."

DO 66 additionally limits the number of passengers to the seating capacity of the vehicle and prohibits placing additional seats on the aisle to accommodate more people.

The school, meanwhile, is instructed to "ensure that all drivers assigned to service off-campus participants have updated licenses and are in good medical condition."

Vehicle inspection is required to be done before departure and during the activity proper.

Tanay bus accident

A survivor of the bus accident in Tanay, Rizal alleged that the vehicle was a replacement and the LTO later found out that the vehicle was at least 29 years old.

Parents also raised concerns over their children being forced to join the field trip.

Under Special Provisions, DepEd stressed that participation in off-campus activities is not mandatory and their absence must not have an effect on their grade.

"Participation in all off-campus activities is voluntary. Under no circumstances shall of-campus activities place undue financial burden on the learners and their families. Teachers shall not charge their expenses to learners," the memorandum read.

DepEd emphasized that field trips cannot be used to raise funds for the school or an association.

DO 66 was issued in support of the  full implementation of K-12 Curriculum. — RSJ, GMA News