The Department of Education (DepEd) has lifted its moratorium on field trips in all public, elementary, and secondary schools, which it ordered on February 22, 2017, after a fatal bus accident that claimed the lives of 14 students of Bestlink College of the Philippines, their teacher, and the bus driver during a field trip in Tanay, Rizal last year.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones signed and issued DepEd Order Number 66, series of 2017, which was uploaded on the DepEd’s website on December 27, 2017. It lists down three main guidelines that schools should follow in holding off-campus activities, these are:
- Ensure relevance and alignment with the educational competencies of the Kindergarten-to-12 curriculum and the leadership development of learners;
- Uphold child protection principles and that no learner shall be disadvantaged in any form;
- Observe the safety and security protocols for all participants before, during, and after the activity.
DepEd reiterates that field trips are voluntary and not mandatory. There is no grade equivalent
and no special projects shall be required for those who will not be able to participate
The new memorandum order has stricter and clearer provisions in ensuring the safety of students. For instance, compared with earlier memos, the new one is stricter regarding service providers tapped by schools such as on tour and transportation operators. It can be recalled that the poor condition of the bus that figured in the Tanay accident was raised.
Under DepEd Order No. 66, “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.” It also ensures that the number of passengers is limited to seating capacity only and that the vehicle is thoroughly inspected before departure and during the off-campus activity.
The school is also tasked by the memo to “ensure that all drivers assigned to service off-campus participants have updated licenses and are in good medical condition as per their latest health examination within a year of the scheduled activity.”
According to the memo, parents or guardians of students should also be consulted through a conference “to discuss all approved and upcoming off-campus activities” and a pre-departure briefing should also be arranged by the school to be attended by the teachers, students, and parents/guardians. And those who fail to attend the briefing will not be allowed to join the off-campus activity.
The DepEd also reiterates that while field trips are meant to supplement classroom learning, joining such is not mandatory. It cites in the memo: “Participation in co- and extra-curricular activities will be voluntary. No learner shall be required to participate in any off-campus activity.”
Moreover, the memo cites that such activities “shall have no grade equivalent” and “all non-participating learners shall not be required with any special projects and/or examination or any form of school requirements.“
Let us hope that schools will follow DepEd’s stricter guidelines to ensure students safety during field trips. Of course, parents, guardians and the students themselves should also take necessary safety precautions. Safe travels to all!
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