Amid concerns on the implementation of limited face-to-face classes in low risk areas, education and health experts assured that the safety of stakeholders – particularly of students and teachers – will remain the utmost priority.
During the virtual signing of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) for the pilot implementation of face-to-face learning modality for basic education on Monday, Sept. 27, DepEd and DOH have presented the identified mechanisms that will help ensure the safety of participating learners, teaching and non-teaching staff as well as their families.
“Our utmost priority is the health and safety of our learners and teachers while ensuring that learning happens and learning gaps are addressed,” said Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones.
As announced earlier, the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes will be done among a maximum of 120 schools across the country. It will include 95 public and 20 private elementary schools and five Senior High Schools (SHS).
“We have been proactive in planning for safe return to schools,” Briones said. “The operational guideline for the pilot run of face-to-face classes is a product of our collaboration with DOH, in consultation with various stakeholders, including child health experts,” she added.
DepEd and DOH have been working hand-in-hand in crafting the operational guideline on the pilot implementation of face-to-face learning to ensure safe reopening of schools.
“This will only be applicable for the schools that passed the strict vetting process by DepEd and DOH, and have the support of their respective local government units,” Briones added.
As presented by DepEd Planning Service Director Roger Masapol, limited in-person classes will be in three phases: the pilot run, the expanded phase and the “New Normal.”
It will also prioritize Key Stage 1 learners or those under Kinder to Grade 3 after the schools have passed the School Readiness Assessment by DepEd and were allowed by their respective local government units (LGUs.)
“We want to ensure that we provide safe learning spaces for children during this pandemic,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.
The guidelines set the standards on the readiness of schools for re-opening amidst the public health situation.
It implements the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate framework highlighting the importance of availability of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, proper ventilation in classrooms, and ensuring that classroom layouts enable physical distancing between persons.
The guidelines also emphasized that prioritization will be given to students who will benefit most from limited face-to-face learning modality.
Management of foot traffic and conduct of simulation activities prior to implementation of the pilot – among others – were also among the salient features of the JMC.