By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
If face-to-face modality will be allowed in certain schools this August, the Department of Education (DepEd) said that not more than 20 learners can attend a single class to observe the physical distancing measures set by the government to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in a recent online press briefing, laid out the Basic Education – Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) which has been adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
Briones said that formal school opening has been scheduled on August 24 for both public and private schools. The actual set-up would largely depend on local health situations, capacities of schools, and the readiness of both learners and parents for the implementation of alternative delivery modes of teaching.
“School opening will not necessarily mean traditional face-to-face learning in classroom,” Briones said. “No face-to-face classes will be allowed earlier than August 24, 2020,” she added.
While school opening will formally start in August, Briones said that schools – both public and private – can start their classes earlier as long the schedule is within the period allowed by the law. As stated in Republic Act 7797, “the school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.”
Aside from complying with the provision of the law, Briones stressed that schools may be allowed to hold physical classes from August 24 onward as long as they meet the requirements set by proper authorities. “Face-to-face learning shall only be allowed when the local risk severity grading permits and subject to compliance with minimum health standards,” she said.
If the IATF permits, Briones said that “there shall only be a maximum of 15 to 20 learners in each class in compliance with the social distancing measures” set by the Department of Health (DOH) in schools or community learning centers (CLCs) where face-to-face modality will be allowed.
Briones underscores that the physical opening of schools “will depend on the risk severity grading or classification” of a locality, pursuant to guidelines of the DOH, IATF or the Office of the President (OP).
“Even in areas where schools are allowed to open, physical distancing will still be required, which will necessitate schools to combine face-to-face learning with distance learning,” Briones ended.