While only schools in low risk areas are included in the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes set to start next month, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday, Oct. 19, said that the conduct of pilot in-person classes is also “possible” in areas like Metro Manila.
In a virtual press briefing, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the DepEd is closely monitoring the status of schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) and other places, such as Region IV-A and Cebu, considering the “huge numbers of learners” in these areas.
Briones noted that “much attention is focused on NCR” because of the high number of enrollment – among others. She said that there are also private schools in Metro Manila that have expressed interest to conduct limited face-to-face classes.
“That’s a possibility,” Briones said when asked if NCR schools will now be included in the pilot study of limited face-to-face classes especially Metro Manila has been placed under Alert Level 3.
“But this will depend on the assessment of the two agencies, the DepEd and the DOH [Department of Health],” Briones said in a mix of English and Filipino.
DOH, Briones said, is conducting a granular assessment on the schools nominated by DepEd.
“I also believe that we should look at how the pilot will work in urban-based schools because like it or not, we have schools in urban areas which also have problems with COVID,” Briones said.
Currently, the majority of the schools included in the pilot run are schools that are not located in the city proper.
“For us to achieve what we want to find out in the pilot testing, it would be good to have information as to how it works in urban-based schools like NCR,” Briones said.
“So we’re keeping a very close eye on the NCR schools and if they undergo granular [assessment] and are recommended by the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] and DOH, they might be included,” she added.
However, Briones clarified that the conduct of limited face-to-face classes in areas like Metro Manila would also depend on the “readiness of the schools” — especially in the private sector.
Meanwhile, DepEd Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma noted that most of the schools that are currently included in the list that will hold limited face-to-face classes come Nov. 15 are located in low or minimal risk areas.
“Majority of the schools that passed the granular assessment of DOH belong to areas under Level 2 and Level 1 so if NCR is still in Level 3, they might not be included yet,” he added.