The secretary of the Department of Education (DE), Eligio Hernández affirmed today that for hours this afternoon the virtual platform that the Department will be using as one of the main instruments for the year should be restored school, which for the moment will begin remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The beginning of the school year, which in itself was already disrupted by the social distancing conditions that it has been necessary to impose to combat the dangerous coronavirus, has also been affected by problems on the DE platform. However, Hernández stated that the situation had already been corrected with some filters that were placed in the system.
On the other hand, the secretary indicated that 600 computers had already been delivered to students, as part of an ambitious project that seeks to put this vital equipment in the hands of each student. The DE plans to deliver more than 330,000 computers, including those that will be awarded to students, and others that are for laboratories and administrative personnel of the agency. He maintained that he hopes to complete the delivery of computers by November.
Hernández indicated that for the next few days the deliveries of computers would continue, “uninterruptedly” in municipalities in the southwest area, and asked parents and guardians to be attentive to the call that They will receive from the school director, to collect the equipment, “at the established time.”
Hernández commented that, due to the pandemic, the DE will adjust various ways to bring education to students, taking into account the characteristics and possibilities of each family nucleus.
“The scenario of the Department of Education depends on the pandemic. But if it could not be face-to-face, nor could it be hybrid, then we have to sustain ourselves in distance education ”said the secretary. “And in distance education we have the didactic modules; we are working with what we mentioned yesterday (Monday) of adding some filters to Microsoft Teams, which should be ready today; We continue with the distribution this week of 20,000 computers, in a totally different logistics. But we are moving to comply with the academic approach to the students, and obviously also that the teachers can adjudicate or adjust those decisions. ”
Hernández explained that as part of this new dynamic of education, the teachers will be calling the students of their homeroom, to make themselves known, clarify the information, discuss the rules of the game with parents, establish possible schedules, and make a screening of the family.
In this screening step, the teacher will evaluate how many children there are in the home of school age, if they have computers, how many; If they have an internet connection, what type of connection. "And from there the teacher will mark the option that applies to the family," he added.
If the family did not have internet, "they would work with the didactic modules", which can be done in two ways. If the family has a computer, they can be given an appointment to stop by the school and given a pen drive (portable memory) so that they can record the material on their computer. If you do not have a computer, the DE would give you printed didactic modules or give you weekly appointments to pick up material at school and you can deliver it the following week.
He anticipated that the teachers complete this screening today, so that they can make their decisions, and possibly regroup students, depending on the capacity available at home.
“If there are 20 students who can be placed in distance education, because they have a computer and internet access, then they can move to hour 1 Students who are in modules can be at hour 2 and hour 3. So the decision making has to be based on what is identified from the families, but each group can have a different strategy based on what they you can identify from the family, ”explained the secretary, adding that the process to be used would be presented to the parents beforehand.
Hernández explained that the delivery of the computer was withdrawn raised by “a vicious challenge that a company made, giving a negative effect to the Department of Education. And the court issued a ruling that says that it submitted false information with the intention of manipulating the court's determination, and the lawyer received a sanction for violating the law's code of ethics, with an economic penalty. ”
The secretary expanded that the ED will also be using other strategies to educate through television, online courses for grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 “in all high school subjects”, as well as “other alternative processes”.  "It is a process that is different, but it is already happening," Hernández insisted, addressing parents and students. “They are going to expect direct communication from the teachers who are communicating with them. It is a process that is different. We are managing a pandemic, and not only is this happening in Puerto Rico, it is happening worldwide. ”
On the other hand, the secretary reiterated that all“ traditional school events have been suspended ”, and“ the activities complementary to teaching ”would be tied to the determinations included in the executive orders to deal with the pandemic. That would also include the administration of the tests known as the “College Board”, which could have to be postponed to other later dates.
“If the situation allows us to administer the 'College Board' in social distancing in person, we can do it . If the circumstances of the pandemic are not recommended, we are not going to expose our students and our staff ”, stated Hernández, in relation to the exams that would be held in October and November.
“ It is a change in culture . Changes are difficult, they are uncomfortable. But the public health situation is directed to the fact that we have to protect the health and safety of our students, and in that direction we make decisions, "added the secretary, warning that the ED will not be able to make long-term decisions. term, because they will depend on the development of the pandemic and the executive orders to deal with the emergency.
Hernández's expressions came at the end of a public hearing before the House of Representatives, in which the DE was harshly criticized by four legislators for what is perceived as a negligence of the agency in addressing the unanimous claim of the José Julián Acosta specialized theater school.