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Duterte OKs pilot testing of face-to-face classes

Rainier Allan Ronda, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte OKs pilot testing of face-to-face classes
Students wearing protective face masks have their temperatures taken while entering their college campus in Manila on January 31, 2020
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte and his Cabinet yesterday approved the conduct of a dry run of face-to-face classes in some schools located in areas with low coronavirus risk.

The pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in selected areas was one of the topics discussed during the Cabinet meeting.

“President Duterte approved during tonight’s Cabinet meeting the presentation of the Department of Education (DepEd) to conduct pilot implementation or dry run of face-to-face classes in select schools within areas with low COVID risk for the whole month of January 2021,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

He said the face-to-face classes would not be compulsory. He added: “Having said this, a parent’s permit needs to be submitted for the student to participate in face-to-face classes.”

Roque said DepEd would work with the COVID-19 National Task Force for the monitoring of the conduct of the dry run. He assured the public that the pilot would be done under “strict health and safety measures.” The activity would require a commitment for shared responsibility among DepEd, local government units and parents.

Duterte previously said he won’t allow face-to-face classes until there is a COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, the DepEd is set to implement a program to assess and put in place measures to improve the delivery of distance learning in public schools amid the ban on face-to-face classes at least till early next year.

DepEd will continue to work from home during the long Christmas and New Year holidays after launching the Teaches program yesterday to evaluate the blended learning scheme amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has considerably set back school year 2020-2021.

Diosdado San Antonio, education undersecretary for curriculum and instruction, said that public school teachers, as well as C&I experts in the DepEd school division offices and regional offices, will gather in virtual conferences to share their experiences in rolling out distance learning since classes opened last October.

San Antonio said that under the Teaches program, the conferences will seek to share the best practices that were successfully implemented by master teachers in high performance public schools.

San Antonio led the launch of the program with the participation of all DepEd regional directors.

In a concept paper for Teaches formulated last June when DepEd was crafting the basic education learning continuity plan (BE-LCP) featuring distance learning, the department sought to allow teachers to enrich their knowledge on curriculum, learning delivery and assessment at their most comfortable time.

At the same time, school officials will also be provided updates on their main task of leading for learning.

The program will have a bias for learning materials in video format.

DepEd Teaches aims to provide teachers and school officials an array of videos that will improve their knowledge and broaden their perspective on learning and school management through the lens of education officials and renowned teachers to facilitate the discussion.

Teachers and other viewers can access the discussions at their own pace.

The program will also push DepEd’s teachers and those who have supervisory positions and regional offices on the C&I, and even education officials to go on-camera and give presentations.

Under the concept, the project will showcase DepEd officials, personnel and outstanding teachers rendering informative talks on learning and school management through social media.

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