Once President Duterte approves the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes, Education Secretary Leonor Briones assured that stringent measures will be in place for the safety of both students and teachers.
Briones, during the press briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr. on Feb. 18, said that DepEd will present to the President at least four policy choices which can serve as a basis for his decision.
In December, DepEd also proposed the dry run of limited face-to-face classes. It was initially approved by the President but was deferred soon after due to the detection of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) UK variant in the country.
“But in the meantime, we are preparing for the time that the President will lift the deferment of these pilot studies,” Briones said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Based on DepEd’s recommendation, Briones said that the conditions for the possible dry run of in-person classes will be very stringent. “First, we need the consent of the local governments, they have to agree to it because that is their territory and they have investments in the schools,” she explained.
Briones added that parents’ written consent allowing their children to participate in the conduct of limited face-to-face classes will also be required. “Based on a survey of over a million participants, there are still parents who do not see the advantage of holding face-to-face classes,” she said.
The facilities, Briones said, will also be a major consideration. “Not all facilities of DepEd are perfect for pilot study,” she said. Given this, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will have to assess the schools that will participate in the dry run.
Briones said that DepEd will also update the President on the recent studies on the effect of COVID-19 among children. “One possibility that we see is transportation so all services relative to education like transportation like canteens, food and others should be clean,” she added.
Without preempting the President’s decision, Briones said DepEd will also update him on the current situation and developments – especially in Metro Manila and how the new COVID-19 variants are being managed.
“Most of all, we will update him on the psychosocial impacts and the risks involved when children stay at home for a long period of time which we also need to minimize,” Briones ended.