Duterte approves DepEd's proposal on expanded face-to-face classes

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte approves DepEd's proposal on expanded face-to-face classes
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 — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the Department of Education's (DepEd) proposal to expand in-person classes, subject to the safety measures to be set by the health department and the concurrence of local governments and parents.

Acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the DepEd has recommended the expansion of face-to-face classes in Alert Level 2 areas but it should be supported by local governments, parents and other stakeholders.

"The president has no objection to that and after the presentation of (DepEd) Sec. (Leonor) Briones, then they can continue their classes. Again, it will be the DepEd and the DOH (Department of Health) combined who will be assessing the expansion or pilot implementation ng face-to-face classes," Nograles said at a press briefing Tuesday.

Briones presented the proposed expansion of the in-person classes during a meeting of the government's pandemic task force last Monday. Under the proposal, the expansion will start not earlier than the first week of February because some areas like Metro Manila and Calabarzon will be under Alert Level 3 until the end of January.

The expansion of in-person classes will be progressive in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2. The DepEd and the DOH will decide on the scale and mechanics of the expansion of face-to-face classes and other school-based activities in consultation with the interior department and the justice department.

"The framework of shared responsibility will continue. We know that LGUs (local government units) should concur and we are conscious of the need for parents' consent... We cannot just expand without securing the approval of local governments and the written consent of parents," Briones said in Filipino.
Only vaccinated teachers and non-teaching personnel would participate in the face-to-face classes and participation by vaccinated students shall be preferred, the education chief added.

Briones claimed the conduct of pilot face-to-face classes from November 15 to December 22, was "highly successful." The pilot in-person classes involved 287 schools and 15,000 learners. 

Briones said a high level of attendance or 83 percent of students was recorded and there was no recorded confirmed case of COVID-19 in all participating schools. There was also a high level of confidence to expand and continue the limited face-to-face classes, she added.

Briones also reported that Metro Manila, which has a total of 2.7 million students, and Calabarzon, which has 3.8 million learners, have suspended classes after they were escalated to Alert Level 3.

"We did not suspend (classes) in all areas because of varying situations.  We have given regional directors the authority but of course, they were closely monitored and were always reporting to us," she said.




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