President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of Department of Education to expand the implementation of face-to-face classes in low-risk areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2, but under certain conditions.
First, schools have been validated as compliant with the standards of the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT) and Schools may already include other grade levels based on the capacity of schools.
Second, schools or division must have secured the concurrence of the Local Chief Executive in the City or Municipality where the expansion school is located, and the schools must also have taken the proper coordination with their respective barangay officials.
Third, students participating in the face-to-face classes must have the written consent of their parents and only vaccinated teachers may participate in the face-to-face classes, and vaccinated learners shall be preferred.
Classes will be automatically suspended should an area fall under Alert Level 3 or higher.
Senator and member of the Senate Committee on Basic Education Christopher “Bong” Go reminded school officials and educators to strictly implement the Required Health Standards for Covid-19 Mitigation jointly issued by the Department of Education and Department of Health as they transition back to in-person teaching.
Go recognized the devastating effect of the prolonged school closures, including learning and productivity losses, and the trauma of being lockdown for quiote a long period of time.
“Health and safety pa din ang importante. Sa kagustuhan nating makapag-aral ang mga bata, ‘wag natin kalimutan na unahin palagi ang interes, kapakanan at buhay nila at ng bawat Pilipino,” he stressed.
In particular, the lawmaker called on schools to improve their ventilation strategies and ensure physical distancing of at least one to two meters, in addition to observing proper mask use and good hand hygiene routines within the school premises.
In his concurrent capacity as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go reiterated the importance of vaccinating all qualified learners to ensure the safe resumption of face-to-face classes.
He suggested that schools and colleges be provided with additional resources to host vaccine clinics to get more young people vaccinated in light of the launch of the vaccination drive for children between the ages of 5 to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 18 years.
First to open face-to-face classes
The Department of Health said that the original 28 pilot schools in Metro Manila was scheduled to start February 9, while the expansion of schools will progressively start their classes from the same day onwards.
Other schedules were Batanes, with 12 schools, within February 7 to 11; Region III, with 106 schools, on February 21; Region IV-A, 57 schools, on February 14; while 16 schools in Region VIII will also start on February 14.
Meanwhile, DOH said that other divisions might start later due to the Omicron surge and Typhoon Odette.
“The rest of the Regions, as well as Divisions in the above Regions outside of those already under Alert Level 2, are continuing their preparations for the expanded phase of face-to-face classes in anticipation of improvement in the COVID Alert Level in their respective areas,” said DOH.