DepEd eyes ‘very small scale’ pilot testing of face-to-face classes excluding Metro Manila schools

Published March 22, 2021, 5:23 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Department of Education (DepEd) is proposing the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes to at least 500 schools nationwide – except those located in the National Capital Region (NCR).

(AFP Photo / File photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

“If it were for DepEd, we really want to have face-to-face interaction because that is the most effective when it comes to the educational process,” DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua said in Filipino during an online press conference in Negros Oriental on Monday, March 22.

When DepEd crafted the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) as a response to the disruption brought about by the COVID-19, the conduct of limited face-to-face classes was included among the learning delivery modalities for School Year (SY) 2020-2021.

“The only problem is that we have a national policy, the President mandated there will be no face-to-face classes until there is a vaccine so we have to follow that policy,” Pascua added.

Despite this, Pascua said that DepEd has been actively recommending the resumption of face-to-face interaction among learners and teachers. “What DepEd did was it proposed the pilot testing of face-to-face [classes], supposed to be for all divisions and regions,” he explained.

The implementation of the pilot testing, Pascua said, also aimed at gathering data on how face-to-face interaction will be conducted. “We also wanted to see what will be the possible problems but this was disapproved because there were so many schools that will participate in the pilot face-to-face interaction,” he noted.

DepEd made the recommendation for pilot testing in December 2020 to be implemented in January 2021. It was initially approved by President Duterte but he recalled his decision following the detection of new COVID-19 variants.

“When this was shelved, we once again proposed the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes but this time, on a much smaller scale,” Pascua said. 

“We are looking at 500 schools nationwide or about 50 schools as participants per region, so the number of schools that will participate in the pilot testing of face-to-face interaction will be lesser,” he added.

Pascual noted that DepEd has yet to receive a response or “action” on the said proposal. “For now, this proposal covers all schools nationwide except in Metro Manila because the cases of COVID infections remain high,” he explained. “If approved, we will undertake the pilot testing of the face-to-face interaction but on a very small scale,” he ended.