DepEd: Limited face-to-face classes COVID-free so far

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
DepEd: Limited face-to-face classes COVID-free so far
In this November 15, 2021 photo, students wearing face masks and face shields are seen participating in the limited face-to-face classes in Buenavista Elementary School in Sorsogon City, Bohol.
Release / Department of Education

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education said Tuesday no COVID-19 cases have been reported so far in schools with limited physical learning, but noted challenges among participants in following health protocols in classrooms.

Education Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma in a briefing said 7,324 Filipino students have returned to public schools, the first time since the pandemic hit. 

DepEd’s two-month pilot study allows for 100 public and 20 private schools to begin limited in-person classes and more are expected to be included soon.  

Garma reported that no infections have been detected in the 56 public schools that submitted reports to the agency.

But, he said some had exhibited symptoms for the virus. These were: eight students with fever, 76 with cough and colds, and one with sore throat. 

A school personnel also had cough and colds, while a visitor had fever, the official added.

“This is one of the things we should highlight,” Garma said, partly in Filipino. “In terms of orientation and knowledge of our parents regarding the symptoms, they already know how to check even from their homes.”

DepEd and the Department of Health are the primary government agencies tasked to implement the pilot study on face-to-face classes.

Both had shunned requiring COVID-19 testing for students, teaching and non-teaching personnel. In September, DOH said those with symptoms would instead be sent to isolation facilities.


Inside classrooms, Garma said schools have noted how students tend to take off their face masks once in a while, especially among those in Kindergarten. 

“This is expected because probably they are still not used to it,” he added in Filipino. “This is one of the things we want to integrate in face-to-face learning. 

Some students also forget to follow physical distancing measures, at times going closer to classmates.

Outside classrooms, the education official appealed to local governments to ensure individuals wear their masks, too. Garma said some visitors also forget to log in for contact tracing purposes. 

“It’s not only for safety but also for adults to set an example to children,” he added, still in Filipino. 

DepEd identified as well the COVID-19 vaccination of parents as a challenge in resuming in-person learning, saying some have yet to receive a jab. 

Per official data, 33.84 million Filipinos are already fully vaccinated for COVID-19, or 43.88% of the government’s target of 77.13 million this year.

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