MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) announced on Wednesday, October 6 that a pilot run of limited face-to-face classes in 59 selected schools in low-risk areas for COVID-19 will begin on November 15.
Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan outlined the timetable of the pilot run’s implementation during a Senate committee meeting on basic education. He stated that the restricted face-to-face sessions will commence in time for the second grading quarter to begin.
The DOH has designated 59 schools as having “passed the granular risk assessment as little or low risk.” There were 638 schools nominated for the pilot test of in-person classes.
“Regional directors may submit justification for inclusion of specific schools, for further evaluation by the DOH,” he said during the Senate hearing.
In the pilot run of face-to-face classes, the Department of Education intends to include 100 public schools and 20 private institutions.
Moreover, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire guaranteed that the advantages of the pilot test outweigh the risks in the schools designated.
“We have ensured that [for] the schools that will be eligible to participate for this pilot implementation, we were able to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risk through the selection of appropriate activities. Second, we have ensured that through the protocols, we will be controlling transmissions by implementing only this pilot implementation in minimal to low-risk areas,” Vergeire said.
“Based on our risk assessment, we can only recommend 59 schools for now. But this will be a regular assessment, and every week we will be submitting to DepEd the list of schools or areas that can still be included as part of this pilot implementation,” she added.
According to Malaluan, the evaluation of the first round of face-to-face classes will begin in earnest between November 15 and December 22, with the pilot project ending on January 31. The Department of Education plans to increase the number of face-to-face sessions on March 7 by adding more schools and locations.
“We will already be preparing for assessments of possible expansion schools. So that by the time we’re able to submit to the President the recommendation, hopefully, in favor of the expansion, we’d also have ready schools for the expansion,” she said.
JUST IN. At a Senate hearing, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan says pilot run of limited face-to-face classes will start on November 15. @rapplerdotcom
— Bonz Magsambol (@bnzmagsambol) October 6, 2021
According to the DepEd, in the pilot run, a blended learning method will be used, with one-week face-to-face and one-week distance learning techniques alternated.
Children will attend school for four (4) hours and 30 minutes, with the exception of kindergarten students, who will go for three hours.
The Philippines was one of just two nations in the world that hadn’t reopened schools since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020.
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