Recognizing the concerns of parents when it comes to the safety of their children, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday, Oct. 26, reiterated that participation in the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes remains voluntary.
DepEd, in a statement, said it “fully understands and respects the concerns of parents of our learners in the implementation of pilot face-to-face classes in low-risk areas.”
In coordination with other concerned agencies, DepEd reiterated that “stringent preparations and protocols have been established to provide maximum protection for our learners and other participating stakeholders in this critical undertaking.”
As of Oct. 25, DepEd said that around 90 schools will participate in the pilot run scheduled to start in public schools on Nov. 15.
Amid concerns on the safety and accountability in case students contract coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the pilot run, DepEd maintained that the guidelines for the undertaking is anchored on a “shared responsibility framework.”
The guidelines of DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH) provide specific operational rules and contingencies to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
“These policies have been consulted to and endorsed by child health expert organizations,” DepEd.
When it comes to vaccination, DepEd said that around 93.2 percent of teachers and staff of participating schools are vaccinated.
“We also secured the commitment of the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) to prioritize jabs for teachers,” it added.
Participation is voluntary
While stringent measures will be in place during the pilot run, DepEd stressed that participation of students in the select schools cleared by DepEd and DOH will not be mandatory.
“Nonetheless, we would like to emphasize that the pilot run of face-to-face classes will be voluntary,” DepEd said.
Moreover, DepEd said parents “must provide written consent” allowing their children to join. “No parent shall be forced to send their children in this modality since the schools will still hold distance learning classes,” DepEd stressed.
With less than a month before the pilot run kicks off, DepEd said that concerned regional offices are working non-stop to ensure the smooth implementation of limited face-to-face classes.
DepEd said that with the help of its partners, the doh, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the NTF for COVID-19, professional organizations - especially child health experts - it remains committed to “proactively monitor and assess trends and concerns” about the risk of COVID-19 in schools.
“And together, we must take care of each other as we gradually reopen our schools for our children,” DepEd added.