MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday signed a joint circular memorandum providing guidelines for the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face lessons in the country.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III signed the circular in a signing ceremony.
Briones said it took the government a year and a half of planning, monitoring, discussion and debate before the government agreed to teach in-person amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government was supposed to hold the pilot race for in-person classes earlier this year, but President Duterte canceled it due to the emergence of more infectious COVID-19 variants.
“It is now safe enough for us to start the pilot study,” she said in a speech at the signing ceremony.
Briones said 120 schools – 100 public and 20 private – are expected to participate in the pilot race. She added that the government must obtain the support of the local government units where the classes will be held, as well as the written consent of the parents, before the in-person classes can be conducted.
To be more precise, 95 public primary schools, five public secondary schools and 20 schools are expected to participate in the pilot race.
Outlining key guidelines for the pilot program, DepEd planning department director Roger Masapol said elementary school students participating in the pilot program should only be from kindergarten to grade 3.
They should have no co-morbidities, reside in the city where the school is located and be able to walk to school from their homes.
School personnel must be 65 years of age and under and have no co-morbidities.
Kindergarten classes should only have a maximum of 12 students, and grades 1 to 3 classes should only have a maximum of 16 learners, Masapol said.
High school classes should only have 20 learners while high school classes in laboratories, workshops or technical and vocational education should only have a maximum of 12 learners.
Only one teacher will be deployed per class from Kindergarten to Grade 3 to minimize exposure during the pilot series of face-to-face lessons, Masapol said.
The pilot program is expected to last two months.
“We want to mitigate the negative impact on mental health and child development of the lack of face-to-face interaction and socialization among learners,” Masapol said, explaining the rationale for the decision to hold classes. limited in person.
The DepEd has yet to give an exact date when the pilot test will begin.
On September 20, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the holding of limited face-to-face classes in areas with minimal risk of COVID-19.
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