Philippines Report

Duterte OKs pilot face-to-face classes in ‘low-risk’ areas

Duterte OKs pilot face-to-face classes in 'low-risk' areas

President Duterte has approved the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in areas that will be classified as low-risk for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang announced.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after announcing early this month that a small group from the government’s pandemic task force will meet with the President to discuss the matter.

In his internet connection-challenged press briefing on Monday, September 20, Roque said that the pilot implementation of in-person classes will go for two months and will be held in minimal risk areas that will be determined by the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH will base its list on the safety assessment of the Department of Education (DepEd) that will get the written support of local government units (LGUs) or their resolution expressing support to such an endeavor.

The written support and consent of the parents of the students are other requirements for the conduct of limited face-to-face classes.

In the same press briefing, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the pilot implementation of in-person classes will cover 100 public schools in low-risk areas. These schools should have also passed the readiness assessment.

An additional 20 private schools may be allowed to implement limited face-to-face classes following a joint validation by the DepEd and the DOH.

She said the pilot may start in two months’ time.

Learners, class size, approach

Kindergarten classes will be limited to 12 learners and should not last more than three hours per session.

Grade Levels 1 to 3 will have 16 learners each at three hours maximum.

Only 20 technical-vocational learners will be allowed in five senior high schools (SHSs). They will be allowed to have in-person classes for a maximum of four hours only.

Classes shall take place for alternating weeks and schools will continue to undertake blended learning strategies.

Briones reminded that the limited face-to-face classes are a shared responsibility among the DepEd, DOH, LGUs, and the parents or guardians of the students.

Important step

Roque reiterated that the move to bring back face-to-face classes, although limited, was an important step since it has become an issue involving the childrens’ mental health, socialization skills, and the economy.

According to Briones, the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes will give the government ground experience on the operationalization and effectiveness of the protocols and contingency measures should there be cases of exposure or infection.

it will also allow the government to identify the difficulties and gaps for operational requirements and assess the benefits of the blending of face-to-face classes with distance learning in terms of learning delivery and outcomes.

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