Duterte OKs limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas


MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:53 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved limited face-to-face learning in areas deemed low risk in COVID-19 transmission, despite his earlier pronouncement that no physical classes will be done without a vaccine against the coronavirus.

Malacañang in a briefing Tuesday afternoon said face-to-face classes may only be allowed starting January 2021 or third quarter of the school year. Private schools that have started conducting physical classes may be allowed to continue.

In the latest Inter-Agency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting aired Tuesday morning, Education Secretary Leonor Briones proposed conducting  restricted face-to-face learning in areas deemed low-risk. “For basic education, we are saying maybe we can allow limited face to face learning but to be strictly regulated in the light of present conditions,” Briones said.

The education secretary also said listed requirements for holding physical classes such as location of the school as low-risk area; classrooms must be big and school buildings must be in good state; compliance with minimum health standards; and local government must be ready to support the schools financially.

Briones stressed that it is important to continue the learning process, while securing the safety of students. “This will really be limited, sir. Those who are asking are Siquijor, Dinagat Islands, Siargao... They have almost zero level [of transmission],” he added.

Duterte replied in a mix of English and Filipino: “I’m with you on this. Let’s try to make our times productive even how constricted the times are. I’m okay [with this]."

Briones said that limited face-to-face classes "closes inequality gaps" among learners. She added they will start assessing schools for the holding of physical classes between August to January 2021.

In late May, Duterte said he would not allow children to physically attend classes until a coronavirus vaccine becomes available.

He said in a public address aired May 25: "I will not allow the opening of classes na mag dikit-dikit ang mga bata. Bahala na hindi makatapos, for this generation wala ng matapos na doctor of engineer.”

He then approved DepEd’s proposal for “blended learning,” that will utilize radio, television, online and  modular learning.

Classes are set to open on August 24.

Briones: Children not as affected as adults

Briones said local government units and international schools have been requesting to the education department if they may be allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes.

“If there is face-to-face it will not be for the entire five days of school week, it could be one day or two days and the sessions could be limited to the most important things that a child should learn,” she said.

Briones also said that children as not as badly affected by the coronavirus as adults. “Of the total confirmed cases, 67,456, only 2,832, most of them mild or 4.20% are children,” Briones said, adding that there have been 16 deaths of children due to COVID-19 as of July 19.

The DepEd chief however acknowledged that “downturn” of economy has affected families and enrolment turnout.

She said that they recorded 77% of total enrolment, compared to last year. In public schools, they recorded 90%, but in private schools, only 27% compared to last year’s numbers have enrolled.

Briones said they call it a “phenomenon” of migrating to public schools. “This is because Mr. President the private schools have been affected by the downturn of economy parents lose their jobs, cannot fund the studies of their students,” she said.

As of July 20, coronavirus infections in the country reached 68,898. Fatality count is 1,835 while recovery stands at 23,072. — Kristine Joy Patag

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 12, 2022 - 10:42am

Follow this thread for updates on when classes will resume, and how those classes will be conducted.

Photo: Students wearing protective face masks have their temperatures taken while entering their college campus in Manila on January 31, 2020. AFP/Ted Aljibe

July 12, 2022 - 10:42am

DepEd says School Year 2022-2023 "shall open on Monday, August 22, 2022, and shall end on July 7, 2023. It shall consist of 203 school days or as may be determined by further issuance/s in case of changes in the school calendar due to unforeseen circumstances."

April 18, 2022 - 10:11am

Sen. Nancy Binay calls on the Commission on Higher Education and the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 not to "burden" students over requirements for face-to-face classes.

Higher educations students are being required to present medical insurance and other documents before participating in face-to-face classes.

“This is a cumbersome and unnecessary requirement para sa college students, considering that by law, all Filipinos are automatic members of PhilHealth. Sa totoo lang, 'di kailangang dagdagan ang proseso, dapat nga mas simplehan pa,” Binay says.

November 12, 2021 - 9:10am

The Department of Education announces that it will increase the number of participating schools in the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes.

"The expansion of the number of pilot schools will allow a greater degree of experience among all our regions that will serve us well for the expanded phase of face-to-face classes," DepEd says.

November 10, 2021 - 6:56pm

COVID-19 immunization has started for tertiary students in Ilocos Norte as part of the massive vaccination campaign of the Commission on Higher Education. 

This in preparation for the reopening of in-person tertiary classes, CHED-Regional Office 1 said as a ceremonial vaccination of students at Mariano Marcos State University was held on Monday in collaboration with the Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, the provincial government and Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center. 

About 800 students are expected to be inoculated through the CHED immunization drive. 

Prior to this, MMSU had already vaccinated 75% of its student population. — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao

September 28, 2021 - 8:13pm

President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized limited face-to-face classes for the following programs: 

  1. Engineering and Technology programs
  2. Hospitality/ Hotel and Restaurant Management
  3. Tourism/ Travel Management
  4. Marine Engineering
  5. Marine Transportation

Commission on Higher Education Chairman Popoy De Vera, who made the announcement, said the authorization applies to "degree programs that require hands-on experience in higher education institutions under Modified General Community Quarantine."

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