While School Year (SY) 2021-2022 officially started in September, it feels like the first day of classes all over again on Monday, Nov. 15 — the first day of the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes for basic education.
Albeit limited, select public schools nationwide were finally able to hold face-to-face classes after 20 months since school closure was implemented due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
DepEd, in a statement, welcomed all the participating learners, teachers, and personnel in 100 public schools earlier identified for the pilot run.
The agency recognized the contribution and support of its partners on the implementation of limited face-to-face classes. The first day, DepEd said, is considered the “key phase in our safe return to school advocacy.”
DepEd said that even when schools were closed in March 2020, the concerned units and officials did not stop planning for the eventual resumption of in-person classes which has led to this “monumental day.”
In the 100 public schools identified by DepEd, the total number of expected learners who will join the pilot face-to-face classes is 5,245.
Based on the guidelines issued by DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH), only learners from Kindergarten, Grades 1 to 3, and select Senior High School (SHS) students under the techvoc track will participate in the two-month pilot implementation.
After getting the President’s approval to increase the number of pilot participants, DepEd said that more learners in both public and private schools will follow suit in the coming weeks.
Based on the series of posts on DepEd’s Facebook Page, the participating schools were able to pull off the first day of the reintroduction of limited face-to-face classes.
In Laserna Integrated School in Nabas, Aklan, for instance, the participating learners were full of smiles and joy as they returned to the classroom while their teachers greeted them just from the school gate.
All teachers, students, and other officials were required to pass through the washing area, temperature checking, and triage area to ensure the safety of everyone inside the school.
In Mary Perpetua E. Brioso National High School in Tigbao, Milagros Masbate, some of the Grade 11 and 12 learners have also returned to their classrooms on the first day of the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes.
Part of the strict safety protocols implemented by the school is requiring teachers, students, and other officials to pass through the washing area, temperature checking, and triage area for everyone’s safety.
Motiong Central Elementary School, which is located in the town of Motiong, Samar made its classrooms fun and colorful.
LOOK: Sinalongan Elementary School in Masbate City is among the 100 public schools included in the pilot study of limited face-to-face classes which started today, Nov. 15 (Photo from @DepEd_PH Masbate) @manilabulletin pic.twitter.com/9shQtjLaEa— Merlina Hernando-Malipot (@MB_InaHernando) November 15, 2021
The conduct of the first day of classes in Dumalneg Elementary School, Ilocos Norte; Aspang Elementary School in General Santos City; and Sinalongan Elementary School in was also safe and orderly.
LOOK: Students of Dumalneg Elementary School in Ilocos Norte during the first day of pilot face-to-face classes (Photos from DepEd Tayo Ilocos Norte Facebook page) @manilabulletin pic.twitter.com/8h9SSni2bA— Merlina Hernando-Malipot (@MB_InaHernando) November 15, 2021
DepEd Bicol, on the other hand, distributed school supplies and hygiene kits to 143 students (Kinder to Grade 3) of Buenavista Elementary School in Sorsogon City, Bicol Region.
LOOK: @DepEd_PH Bicol distributes school supplies and hygiene kits to 143 pupils (Kinder to Grade 3) of Buenavista Elementary School in Sorsogon City, Bicol Region (Photos: Mayflor Jumamil of DepEd Region V – Bicol) @manilabulletin pic.twitter.com/Y3KYYhY30l— Merlina Hernando-Malipot (@MB_InaHernando) November 15, 2021
As part of its safety protocol, San Isidro Elementary School in Ilocos Norte disinfected the classrooms after the first day of pilot face-to-face classes.
LOOK: Barangay Health Worker Juliet Dela Cruz disinfects a classroom used by the students and teachers after the first day of pilot face-to-face classes in San Isidro Elementary School, Ilocos Norte (Photos: @DepEd_PH Ilocos Norte) @manilabulletin pic.twitter.com/StrKTJlmd2— Merlina Hernando-Malipot (@MB_InaHernando) November 15, 2021
While it was generally successful, there were also challenges during the first day of pilot face-to-face classes.
In particular, three out of the 10 schools in Zambales postponed the conduct of pilot face-to-face classes after some teachers tested positive for COVID-19.
DepEd Schools Division Office (SDO) – Zambales Assistant Schools Division said that even if the pilot implementation of limited in-person classes in these schools have been delayed, the first day of classes was generally a success.
“Overall, even the handling of situation [in these schools], we did okay because the preparations were also okay,” she told the Manila Bulletin in a mix of English and Filipino.
For instance, Burgos Elementary School in Botolan, Zambales, was able to successfully push through with the first day of classes. The IP school has 85 K to 3 learners who were set to participate in the pilot face-to-face classes.
LOOK: Indigenous People (IP) learners of Burgos Elementary School in Botolan, Zambales on the first day of pilot face-to-face classes (Photos: Mary Princess Gaspar of Burgos ES) @manilabulletin pic.twitter.com/EZ8AkoxrBb— Merlina Hernando-Malipot (@MB_InaHernando) November 15, 2021
While the pilot study has just started, DepEd expressed optimism that with everyone’s help in improving country’s COVID-19 situation, the vision to safely reopen more schools nationwide is “not a far reality.”