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Private schools not against face-to-face classes

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Private schools not against face-to-face classes
Grade 1 student of St Mary Elementary school in Marikina City during face to face class (June 20, 2022).
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) has clarified that it is not opposing the resumption of face-to-face classes in the basic education sector.

What they are appealing, said COCOPEA managing director Joseph Noel Estrada, is the total ban on the conduct of online classes and other distance learning modalities starting Nov. 2.

“We’ve been doing this for the past two years. We feel that students will benefit more if we continue with the benefits of online and combining it now with in-person classes,” he said in an interview with “The Chiefs” over Cignal TV’s One News on Friday night.

“And then of course the preference of the parents. They want blended. They don’t want the five-day school week in-person. So, we want to support that preference,” he added.

Estrada said implementing 100 percent in-person classes will affect the capacity of schools and the ability to implement social distancing.

“The capacity of classrooms, for example, pre-pandemic is around 30 to 35, even 40. So, if all of those will attend class, then we would have to disregard the social distancing and other health protocols,” he said in English and Filipino.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, in her first order as head of the Department of Education (DepEd), directed all private and public elementary and high schools to resume full face-to-face classes starting Nov. 2.

Under her directive, physical distancing will only be implemented in schools “whenever possible.”

In addition to the need to address the learning losses of students, Duterte also cited the lack of a policy allowing distance learning modalities in the normal basic education setup, except certain cases such as the Alternative Learning System.

The COCOPEA on Thursday sent a letter to Duterte explaining their position on the matter.

“Blended or hybrid learning has been effective in the private schools in the last two school years and may continue to help learners to complement their in-person classes this coming school year,” it said.

“The flexibility and finding the right balance of the pros and cons of both online and in-person classes would benefit the education sector more. The objective of improving the learning opportunity and outcomes of children by pushing for face-to-face classes (as well as of boosting the economy) ought to be balanced with the need to ensure their health and safety, which remains to be of paramount importance,” it added.

According to the group, it is within the mandate of DepEd to issue a policy that allows permissive online or hybrid classes that is flexible enough to complement a mandatory implementation of in-person classes.

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