May 5, 2020 — For months now, our united efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic are producing promising results in defeating the unseen threat. Still, our country and the world at large are facing new challenges brought about by this unforeseen public health crisis.As we continue to confront the issues brought about by the pandemic, we in the Department of Education (DepEd) are addressing challenges in the basic education through the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP), which will be in effect by the time School Year 2020-2021 opens on August 24, 2020.The LCP is our major response and our commitment in ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our learners, teachers, and personnel in the time of COVID-19 while finding ways for education to continue amidst the crisis for the upcoming school year.Putting it into perspective, we have delayed the opening of classes to ensure that our learners and teachers are given time and be properly equipped to adjust to this new learning environment. Our policies will also be continuously guided by science and by the advice of our health experts. Education can and must continue but only under the conditions and health protocols set by the DOH and the World Health Organization (WHO).We have repeatedly consulted and collaborated with our partner institutions and organizations in crafting the LCP, which includes key features on K-12 curriculum adjustments; alignment of learning materials; various modalities of delivery; and corresponding teacher and parent/guardian training for homeschooling. These modifications on certain policies and practices were necessary steps in adapting to the “new normal” while still remaining true to the framework of Sulong EduKalidad and Education Futures.On school opening, we would like to emphasize that it will not necessarily mean that teachers and learners will undergo the traditional in-classroom set-up by August this year. In the LCP, the choice and contextualization of the learning delivery modality of schools will depend on the local COVID-19 situation as well as access to certain learning platforms. Even as we set policies in the central office, we will primarily consider local public health conditions in adjusting our LCP. Preventive measures will be put in place to secure the health and well-being of our personnel and our learners under this new normal.Access, as we are all aware, is another issue of utmost concern and we have devised various modalities to ensure that online learning is only one of the options among all others in this new learning environment. Our field units will determine the most appropriate combinations or strategies for every locality as we look into addressing equity concerns of our constituents in this new arrangement.It is our ultimate goal to facilitate the safe return of our teachers and learners to schools without the worry for COVID-19 but until such time is already possible, we will do everything in our capacity to carry on so that basic education will still be available despite the crisis.We expect a grueling transition and we will need the help and support of all our stakeholders. There will be birth pains in this path but we look forward in having our teachers, our parents, our learners, and our communities as allies who will work with us to provide valuable insights and contributions.We reiterate the importance of education to bring normalcy to the lives of our learners but their health and safety, ultimately, is most important.