Following the suspension of college field trips by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Department of Education (DepED) decided to issue a moratorium on all elementary and high school field trips in all public schools for the remainder of the school year.
The moratorium on school field trips will take effect until the next school year opens in June 2017. According to a report by Inquirer.net, the suspension will give them enough time to review the existing policies regarding out-of-school learning experiences and harmonize the implementing details across the country.
"The review will cover alignment of field trips to learning outcomes, security and safety and responsibilities and accountabilities not only of schools but of parents and of other relevant government agencies," the DepED statement read. The decision was reached after a consultation meeting attended by regional directors and DepEd Undersecretary Jesus Mateo.
For the rest of the school year, only field trips that already have permits and completed contracts will be allowed. However, the DepEd stresses that the school should strictly follow existing guidelines. Other than those exceptions, all planned field trips for public schools were ordered canceled.
The temporary suspension of field trips does not cover field trips arranged by private school institutions because DepEd does not have direct responsibility in conducting their school activities. However, the department could also extend the suspension to cover field trips arranged by private schools, if needed.
“While the moratorium is only for public schools, policy for both public and private will be covered by the review. Representatives of private schools will be included in the committee,” read a report by PhilStar.com.
On February 22, two days after the tragic bus accident that killed 15 and injured 40 people, mostly college students, DepEd issued a reminder to parents, school officials, and school personnel that while educational field trips are meant to supplement classroom learning, joining such is not mandatory. It also ordered all schools to ensure that proper registration and road-worthiness of the buses or vehicles to be used during these trips and that the drivers have the appropriate know-how and frame of mind when on the road.
According to DepEd Order (DO) No. 52, series of 2003, no punitive measures or activities related to the trip, which will put students who could not join the trip at a disadvantage, shall be imposed. Teachers must also refrain from conducting tests based on these field trips, and that students who opted not to join should instead be given activities in school as substitute for not joining the trip. It also underlined the importance of the students securing a written consent form signed by their parents or guardians before participating.
Other policies for school field trips states that it should not cost additional financial burden on the student’s parents and that the places to visit must be educational, such as cultural and historical sites, or science exhibits in museums that complement or supplement classroom lessons.
Meanwhile, the CHED also issued a clarification on their college field trip suspension. College students currently undergoing internship, practicum, or on-the-job training are exempted from the moratorium.