The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday, Sept. 20, welcomed the decision of President Duterte to finally approve the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes in low risk areas.
“This is wonderful, this is a great day for education in our country,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones during the press briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Briones said that initially, 100 public schools and 20 private schools, are being eyed for the limited face-to-face classes. She added that these nominated schools should strictly adhere to minimum health standards during the dry run of the pilot face-to-face classes.
Briones said that only schools located in low-risk coronavirus disease (COVID-19) areas.
“Ang face-to-face na konsepto ngayon, iba sa face-to-face na kilala natin. Ini-schedule ito nang husto at strictly monitored pati 'yong kilos ng mga bata (The face-to-face concept today is different from the face-to-face we know. It is scheduled closely and strictly monitored as well as the actions of the children),” Briones said.
Briones added that DepEd has been preparing for the limited face-to-face classes since last year. She explained there is “no definite date” yet when the pilot testing will start. This, she said, will also depend on the readiness of the identified schools.
DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH) also came up with joint guidelines for the pilot testing. Briones explained that the class size in limited face-to-face classes will be “carefully monitored” with 12 to 20 learners that will stay in schools up to a maximum of four hours.
Briones said there will be “no continuous” holding of face-to-face classes and these will be held based on schedule, such as alternating weeks.
The start date for pilot limited face-to-face classes, Briones said, will also depend on the readiness of local government units (LGUs) as well as the consent given by parents and guardians.
Briones said that the guidelines for the conduct of pilot face-to-face classes are jointly developed by DepEd and DOH. She added the framework and key elements of the joint circular which was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on July 15, 2021 is “subject for approval by the President.”
Meanwhile, Briones said that teachers - at least in the identified schools - are also ready for the limited in-person classes, especially as a “significant number of teachers” are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.