Students return to campus in August – DepEd

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LIMITED INTERACTION A 1st grade teacher at Epifanio delos Santos Elementary School in Manila holds physical lessons with a limited number of students in this photo taken February 28, as the National Capital Region prepares to move to grade COVID-19 Alert 1. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced on Monday the resumption of in-person classes at public schools for the next school year beginning August 22.

“By the next school year, we expect 100% full implementation of face-to-face classes,” Briones said during the public briefing for Laging Handa.

She clarified, however, that the setup would require approval from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and local governments in the areas where the schools were located.

Physical classes are only permitted in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2.

Challenge

According to Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio, all schools are encouraged to hold in-person classes while observing blended learning modalities.

“There will be face-to-face classes on some days and remote learning on other days,” San Antonio said. “Once the IATF allows all schools to have physical classes, the Department of Education (DepEd) will move this forward.”

In its May 26 report, the DepEd said that based on the latest quick count of regions, 30,033 public schools, or 66.56% of the total number nationwide, were already holding in-person classes.

However, only 918 or 7.43% of private schools nationwide had done the same, prompting Briones to express concern over the situation during a meeting with President Duterte.

“It’s a challenge for us… It’s ironic that at the height of the debates over face-to-face schooling, there were a lot of crowd demands for face-to-face schooling,” he told -she says.

Alert levels

Briones said there was no such problem with public schools because once a region or area was placed under Alert Levels 1 or 2, the establishment of physical classrooms would be automatic.

This was not the case, however, in private schools where school officials had the final say.

The Philippines was the latest country to reopen its schools in November last year for the conduct of physical classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pilot test, participants were limited to students in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Participating schools had to comply with the standards of the safety assessment tool, including rigorous protocols set by the IATF, the Department of Health and the DepEd. They also had to seek approval from local governments and parents.

New secretary

Meanwhile, the transition period between Briones and the next DepEd secretary, Vice President-elect Sara Duterte, has been set for June 20-30.

“We need to have a one-on-one [session] so that she can be informed of the various challenges of DepEd,” Briones said, adding that they were also preparing the transition report on the department.

Briones said she hopes for “program continuity” that has proven successful during her tenure, including the Alternative Learning System program and Last Mile Schools.

She added that she also expects the continuation of digital learning under the next administration that “nearly all nations (have embraced).”

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