The conduct of face to face classes in pilot schools located in the National Capital Region (NCR) has been suspended, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Sunday, Jan. 2, said.
Issuing a statement, DepEd confirmed that face to face classes for pilot schools in NCR are “suspended” until the alert level reverts to Level 2.
This, DepEd said, is consistent with the recent memorandum of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for the Alert Level 3 protocols and considering the “notable increase” of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Metro Manila.
DepEd said that the decision to suspend limited face to face classes in pilot public and private schools located in Metro Manila was made in consultation with the Department of Health (DOH).
“Face to face classes in pilot schools in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2 shall continue in the meantime that DepEd finalizes its report on the pilot face-to-face classes,” DepEd said.
Back to blended learning
Following the decision of the IATF, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that there will be no face to face classes particularly in Metro Manila starting Jan. 3 to 15, 2022.
“Those who completed pilot face-to-face classes will continue distance learning delivery modality,” Briones said in a phone interview with the Manila Bulletin.
“They will not continue face-to-face classes at this time because the IATF [resolution] is very clear,” she added.
At least 28 schools in NCR were allowed to participate in the pilot run of limited face to face classes starting Dec. 6, 2021.
Briones noted that the IATF has a “very strong position” regarding the resumption of classes, thus, students who participated in the pilot run would go back to the distance learning set-up, particularly those located in NCR schools.
The IATF, Briones said, is worried about younger children who are not yet vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Although Omicron is said to be milder, they want to be sure that the younger children are also protected,” Briones said.
Only select students from Kinder to Grade 3 and some Senior High School (SHS) students under the TechVoc strand were allowed to participate in the pilot run.
Briones said that while younger children may have higher levels of resistance against the virus, “but we, the IATF, don’t want to take any chances.”
Face to face still possible
While the plans to for the expansion of face to face classes have been put on hold for now, Briones maintained that in-person learning remains a possibility amid the pandemic.
“We still believe that we will eventually have face-to-face [classes],” Briones.
“The decision of the IATF is only up to Jan. 15 and in the meantime, the IATF is monitoring very, very closely particularly the DOH experts and the pediatric experts because the recommendation to focus on the younger children came from them,” she added.
Briones said that the DepEd will also be monitoring the updates coming from the IATF and the DOH in the coming weeks especially in NCR where the enrollment is high.
“After Jan. 15, babantayan nila kung ano [mangyayari] (they will see what will happen) and we will be closely monitoring,” Briones added.