MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) has recommended the “progressive expansion” of face-to-face classes in areas under COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2 starting next month.
During a pre-taped meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte aired on Monday night, Education Secretary Leonor Briones explained that the expansion of the pilot physical classes will be progressive, which means that only select schools in areas classified as low-risk for COVID-19 will be allowed to resume classes.
“Hindi ‘yung lahat-lahat sabay-sabay. Kung ang isang lugar ay Alert Level 1 and 2, selective, puwedeng mag-expand ng face-to-face,” Briones said.
The DepEd chief said the expansion of face-to-face classes will start in February, with the concurrence of the local government units (LGU) and parents’ consent.
“Iyong framework ng shared responsibility, patuloy. Iyong pag-concur ng LGUs, alam na alam namin ito, conscious kami at saka parents’ consent, requirement pa rin, Mr. President. Hindi kami mag-e-expand ng basta-basta na hindi kami mangangatok sa local governments at saka hindi namin makuha iyong written consent ng mga parents,” Briones said in her report to the president.
“Iyon ang aming proposal, Mr. President. February ang pag-e-expand pero maingat pa rin, taking into consideration the advice of the Department of Health, the LGUs, as well as now the Department of Justice,” she added.
Briones reiterated that only fully vaccinated teachers and non-teaching personnel will be allowed to join the face-to-face classes. Participation of vaccinated students will also be preferred.
“Ang sabi namin, only vaccinated teachers and non-teaching personnel na vaccinated will participate kung tayo ay mag-implement ng faceto-face. At saka ‘yung participation ng vaccinated students, kasi in-announce na ni (vaccine czar) Secretary (Carlito) Galvez na by March, by April, mag-umpisa na tayo sa mga bata, iyon preferred natin ‘yun. So iyon ang aming proposal, Mr. President,” she said.
Briones said 278 schools with about 15,000 students participated in the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes last year.
Around 28 schools from Metro Manila joined the program last December but its resumption was suspended earlier this January due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.
Other regions with high coronavirus infections also suspended limited in-person classes but classes in areas under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 have continued.
The DepEd earlier allowed schools and local education offices to suspend classes for up to two weeks over rising COVID-19 cases.