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Duterte approves more schools to participate in face-to-face classes

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Nov 12, 2021 10:26 am

More schools will be included in the pilot run of face-to-face classes, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced on Nov. 12. 

“With the approval of the Office of the President, the Department of Education is announcing that it will increase the number of participating schools in the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes,” the DepEd statement read.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to improve in many areas around the country, the DepEd, which is in close coordination with the Department of Health (DOH), has assessed that more schools are qualified to be included in the pilot list.

From the initial 100 public schools and 20 private schools, the DepEd and DOH will determine the final number of pilot schools based on DepEd’s evaluation of school readiness and DOH’s assessment of COVID-risk level.

“From the latest transmittal of DOH, 484 out of the 638 passed their granular risk assessment as minimal or low risk,” the statement read. “We have also received several appeals from LGUs, including NCR, to have their schools in their jurisdiction selected in the pilot implementation.”

The DepEd said additional pilot schools will be announced once they have been validated.

After almost two years of schools being shut down and shifting to online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines will proceed with the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes starting Nov. 15 with 100 public schools and on Nov. 22 with 20 private schools.

On Nov. 10, a coalition of advocacy groups expressed concerns regarding the government’s guidelines, pointing out that it’s “deficient of key health protection measures."

The groups also demanded COVID-19 testing for children, which the DepEd said was not recommended by the DOH and will be a “traumatic” experience for the students.

The DepEd said instead of subjecting the students to COVID-19 swab or antigen testing, school personnel will rely on symptoms and monitor the condition of those who will attend the pilot run, and face masks are required to be worn at all times.