Up to 18 public schools in the Davao Region are set to participate in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) XI pilot face to face classes any time this year.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved the limited face to face classes in 120 public and private schools classified as low-risk for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“I am not yet at liberty to disclose the schools but as a hint theya re located in two provinces in one city,” DepEd XI Spokesperson Jenelito Atillo said during One Davao’s Virtual Presser today. There will be 7 schools for one province, 4 in another province and 7 for the city.
Atillo said up to 20 private schools all over the country will be included in the pilot face to face classes but the schools have not yet been identified.
The approval of the limited face to face classes came amid rising COVID-19 cases in most parts of the country, and far from attaining herd immunity for the Philippines.
Oxford Economics, a leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis, earlier said the Philippines would be among the last countries in the region to vaccinate 70% of the population.
The operational guidelines of the pilot classes was made by DepEd with the support of the World Health Organization. Atillo said it also has a greenlight from the UNICEF.
Atillo said DepEd made use of a safety assessment tool and only schools that meet all the criteria will be included in the list. To assure shared responsibility, the agency will require a written consent from the families, allowing their children to be part of the face to face classes.
“Walay pugsanay sa mga learners ug sa parents nga dili gusto mutambong sa pilot implementation (the learners and the parents won’t be forced to join the pilot face to face classes),” Atillo said.
The pilot face to face classes will only run for two months to determine how the country’s education sector will push forward with the pandemic still in existence. The other learning modalities will continue along with the implementation of the pilot face to face so there will be no disruption of classes.
“If the classification of an area is changed from low risk to a higher risk then the school will automatically be removed from the list,” he said.
Atillo said face to face is still the best learning modality since the educators can readily respond to the needs of the children. He admitted to the difficulty in the delivery of the learning process during school year 2020-2021 “because the teacher was present only in modules and group chats but not personally.”
“Even parents and children can attest to the fact that there is a big difference—the pilot face to face will somehow give a semblance and message that education should be implemented under strict protocols,” he said.
The pilot face to face classes will only have limited participants including Kindergarten to Grade 3 for elementary and technical-vocational students for Senior High School (SHS).
DepEd XI will be meeting with the 18 schools within the week for final instructions. The pilot face to face classes will be conducted every other week, with only three hours of classes for Kindergarten to Grade 3 and four hours for SHS.
Only 12 students will be allowed per school for Kindergarten, and only 16 learners from Grade 1 to 3.
“One of the requisites that we had to secure before we came up with the list of the 18 schools was the consensus and approval of the parents,” he said. However, he said, parents who already agreed to join the pilot classes can still change their minds and vice versa.
Atillo said this is just the first batch and if they see favorable results, then the second batch will hopefully have more participating schools.