100 public schools for pilot face-to-face classes complete — DepEd

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
100 public schools for pilot face-to-face classes complete � DepEd
Staff of Dagat Dagatan Elementary School in Navotas City prepare the classroom and other materials needed on Sept. 16, 2021 once the government allows the resumption of face-to-face classes.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — Education officials on Wednesday announced there are now 100 public schools that would begin a limited return to classrooms this month. 

President Rodrigo Duterte had given his approval for the Department of Education's pilot run on resuming face-to-face classes starting November 15. 

The Philippines is among the last countries in the world with no return to in-person learning yet since the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. 

In the initial run, 100 public schools would be allowed along with 20 private institutions. These should be under "low-risk" areas identified by the Department of Health, and need concurrence by local governments.

"We are all set and we have completed this," said Education Secretary Leonor Briones in Filipino at a government briefing. "We can extend and include more schools depending on the result."

An updated list from DepEd showed Caraga has 14 schools cleared for the pilot study, the highest number among regions. 

Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas, and Northern Mindanao would have 10 schools each allowed to participate. 

Briones said the agency continues to inspect schools to ensure readiness in following physical distancing measures. 

Noticeably, there is still no school allowed in the National Capital Region to join the pilot study, despite DOH classifying it already as low risk. 

Metro Manila continues to see a decline in coronavirus cases, months after a deadly surge that forced it into hard lockdown.

The education chief said schools here could be considered for for the second batch, or when the pilot study is expanded.

"We would be relying heavily on the assessment of the DOH," she added. "If they say it can proceed we will write to the President to allow more schools."

Talks, meanwhile, are still ongoing on which private schools would be cleared for limited physical classes.

Education Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma said 57 institutions have already been submitted for evaluation and a decision could be out by November 12.

Groups have long pressed the government to prioritize reopening schools, with difficulties from distance learning prevailing under the second year of the setup for over 27 million students.

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