Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has endorsed the proposal to allow limited face-to-face classes in schools located in areas under low-risk modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
The education department has recommended allowing 10 students in one classroom if a student has no access to other blended learning methods during a meeting with President Duterte and other officials Wednesday night.
“We strongly endorse it, Mr. President,” Duque, head of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF), said during the meeting about the limited face-to-face classes in areas under the lowest community quarantine level.
“Sang-ayon po ako kung puwede pong maaprubahan ninyo, Mr. President, dahil gagawin naman po nila sa tinatawag natin MGCQ low-risk (I agree if you may possible approve Mr. President because we will do it in low-risk areas under MGCQ),” he added.
Duque explained that places under low-risk MGCQ have slow pace of case doubling rate of “more than 28 days), low number of active cases, as well as sufficient health care system. The critical care utilization rate in these areas is only less than 30 percent, he added.
“So all of these really favor ‘yon pong kanilang proposition kasi ‘yon pong binanggit nila na mga sampung estudyante sa isang classroom ay ito po’y naka-align po sa ating tinatawag na mga physical distancing as part of the engineering controls (So all of these really favor the proposition because proposed 10 students in one classroom is aligned with our physical distancing as part of the engineering controls),” he added.
Other proposed health measures in schools, Duque said, are establishment of separate entrance and exit ways as well as limiting the air conditioning at 26 degrees Centigrade.
“Alam po naman natin mas madaling kumalat kung nakasara ‘yung kuwarto, naka-aircon na mababa ang temperatura or malamig (We know that the virus can easily spread if the room is closed with air-conditioning at cold temperature),” he added.
At the same meeting with the President, Briones has mentioned the proposed limited physical classes in basic education if online or distance learning is not possible.
“Ang hinihingi ng marami ngayon dumadami ay ‘yung tinatawag nilang limited na face-to-face (Many have asked for the limited face-to-face classes),” she said, noting that some Southeast Asian countries have allowed blended learning as well as limited physical classes.
“Puwedeng mag-online, puwedeng mag-offline, puwedeng radio, puwedeng television at kung wala talaga, if all of the above wala, ‘yung tinatawag nating IBM or it’s better manual (They can study online, offline, through radio and television. If they don’t have all of the above, we have what we call IBM or it’s better manual),” she said.
Under the blended learning approach, Briones also proposed the recruitment of “para-teachers” who can help teach parents in the education of their children. Learning materials will also distributed by local government units to the houses of the students.
Classes in basic education are scheduled to resume “whatever form it is” on August 24, according to Briones.
“Ang bottom line, patuloy ang pag-aaral ng mga bata, at malaki ang papel ng pag-recover ng economy sa patuloy na pag-aaral ng mga bata (The bottom line is the education of the children will continue and the recovery of the economy plays a huge role in contenting the education of our children),” she said.