/ 28 September 2021

THE DEPARTMENT of Education and the Department of Health identified mechanisms to ensure the safety of students and teachers during the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes.

The pilot implementation will be done in 120 schools across the country, prioritizing Key Stage 1 learners or those who are in Kinder to Grade 3. The schools must first pass the School Readiness Assessment by DepEd and their local governments to join the pilot testing.

Recognizing the need to safely reopen schools, DepEd and DOH worked hand-in-hand in crafting the operational guidelines on the pilot implementation of face-to-face learning.

“Our utmost priority is the health and safety of our learners and teachers while ensuring that learning happens and learning gaps are addressed. We have been proactive in planning for safe return to schools. The operational guideline for the pilot run of face-to-face classes is a product of our collaboration with DOH, in consultation with various stakeholders, including child health experts. This will only be applicable for the schools that passed the strict vetting process by DepEd and DOH, and have the support of their respective local government units,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.

The DepEd chief added that the pilot will feature a combined implementation of face-to-face classes and distance learning.

The guideline sets standards on the readiness of schools for re-opening.

The schools included in the pilot testing must ensure the availability of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, proper ventilation in classrooms, and classroom layouts enable physical distancing between persons.

They must also prioritize students who will benefit most from limited face-to-face learning modality, manage of foot traffic, and conduct of simulation activities prior to implementation of the pilot, among others.

“We want to ensure that we provide safe learning spaces for children during this pandemic. The pilot run will be a shared responsibility among DOH, DepEd and local government units to ensure that mechanisms are in place from prevention of Covid19 infection to reintegration of recovered patients. It is also a shared responsibility among school management, teachers, and families for ensuring that all minimum public health standards are observed and possible Covid19 cases are detected early through regular symptoms screening and reporting,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

DepEd also drafted a contingency plan with recommended actions for different scenarios.

“With the help of DOH and other local partners, we will soon orient those who will be involved in the pilot run and coordinate with them regarding the prioritization of their vaccination in case our participating teachers and other non-teaching personnel haven’t completed their vaccines yet,” Briones said.

Teachers who will join the pilot implementation should be vaccinated against Covid19.