President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in areas classified with “minimal risk” for the coronavirus.
In a televised public briefing, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the schools for pilot in-person classes, expected to begin in two months, should pass the Department of Education’s safety assessment qualifications.
“Local governments must allow it because they will host the face-to-face classes. There also must be written consent from the parents that they will allow their children to join the pilot classes,” Briones said.
Only about 100 public schools nationwide located in minimal risk areas and a limited number of learners would be allowed to participate.
“So we could see how it works, and then we add 20 private schools that they submit plans for this,” Briones said.
Briones said for kindergarten, only 12 learners will participate and 16 learners for Grades 1 to 3.
Those attending technical or vocational classes in five senior high schools would be limited to 20 learners.
At the start of the pandemic last year, schools and learners adopted remote learning, changing the way students are educated. When the proposal to hold face-to-face classes popped up, several groups and parents were against it, fearing for their children’s health and safety.
The DepEd, in a statement, assured that “no learner shall be forced to attend the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes.”
The pilot implementation will be a combination of face-to-face classes and distance learning modalities for two months.
Face-to-face classes will be held half-day every other week, with participating schools ensuring that class schedules are arranged equitably so that all qualified learners have the opportunity to attend in person.
“While the public schools have already undergone a selection process, the private school participants will still undergo selection,” the statement read.
The operational guidelines for the face-to-face classes have been prepared by the DepEd and Department of Health, with the support of the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund and other organizations specializing in children’s health.
It also lists steps to prepare school personnel, learners and the community before the school reopening.
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