By Charissa Luci-Atienza and Hannah Torregoza
The Department of Education (DepEd) is eyeing to conduct limited face-to-face classes among senior high school (SHS) students, given that the government is set to start its vaccination program within this month.
Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio noted that preparations are underway for the eventual resumption of physical classes.
“Mukhang hindi pa naman talaga mabibigyan ng bakuna lalo na ang maliliit na bata kaya inaadjust din po namin ang aming plano na kung ang mababakunahan na ay ‘yung mas matatanda siguro yung mga senior high school learners baka duon din muna kami magpasimula ng limited face-to-face [classes]. (It seems that the small children will not be given vaccines so we adjust our plan that if the older ones will be vaccinated, maybe, we will start our limited face-to-face [classes] with them,” he told the DZBB in an radio interview.
He clarified that their proposal is “not yet final”, citing that under the leadership of Secretary Leonor Briones, they will implement the decision that will be issued by the the Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and President Duterte.
San Antonio said the DepEd will definitely not implement face-to-face classes in areas with high incidence of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
“‘Yung mga basehan namin ay maliwanag din , hindi po ito pwedeng gawin sa lugar na mataas ang cases ng COVID -19 at hindi po tayo magpro-proceed kung mismong lokal government at ‘yung mga magulang ay ayaw, kahit po magkaron nito kung ayaw ng mga magulang hindi po sila pipilitin (Our basis is clear, this will not be conducted in areas with high cases of COVID-19 and we will not proceed if the local government and the parents oppose it, even though this will be implemented, if the parents do not like this, we will not impose this on them.),” he said.
He said the parents will have a choice to continue the home-based learning for their children.
“Ang isa pa po ay alam natin na may mga lugar na nagko-commute ang mga bata kung sakali na magkaron nito, ay kailangang ano rin po yun ay sakupin ng mga paghahanda ng paaralan, katuwang po ang napaka reliable na partners na lokal na government mga kapitan ng barangay, mayor at mga gobernador (The other thing is we know that there are areas where the children commute, just in case this will be implemented, it should be part of the school’s preparations, in partnership with our very reliable partners such as the local government, barangay captains, mayors and governors.)
400 COVID-19 free LGUs
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian yesterday expressed hope that the more than 400 local government units (LGUs) that have been cleared of COVID-19 can now conduct face-to-face classes within their respective vicinities.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture, said that since the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has already modified some protocols on COVID-19, the education sector should start studying the feasibility of slowly opening face-to-face classes.
“We now have 400 out of 1,500 LGUs that are zero-COVID and some of these never had COVID-19 cases because they are in far-flung areas, in islands, in areas we consider ‘low-risk.’ I think they can now slowly open up their schools,” Gatchalian said in an interview overRadio DWIZ.
Gatchalian said the Department of Education (DepEd) should consider allowing students to come to school in batches, or at least allow classrooms to operate in a 50 percent capacity.
“They can come up with a system where students can come to school two times a week, so that 50 percent can be accommodated,” he added.
“We need to experiment, because we’ve never done this before in history. We can experiment and conduct face-to-face classes slowly,” he said.