DepEd sets pilot launch of face-to-face classes in 120 schools

President Duterte

AT least 100 public and 20 private schools are expected to participate in the pilot implementation of face-to-face (F-to-F) classes in low-risk areas following the approval of President Duterte, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced on Monday.

These schools, according to DepEd, are located in minimal-risk areas based on the criteria set by the Department of Health (DOH), and must have passed the safety assessment using the school safety assessment tool of DepEd, and have the support of the local government unit in the form of a resolution or letter of support.

However, DepEd said that while the public schools have already undergone a selection process, the private school participants would still undergo selection. The DepEd have yet to release the list of participating schools.

This developed as Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that President Duterte has approved the proposal of DepEd to finally start the pilot of F-to-F classes in the ongoing school year.

He said the President made the decision in consideration of not only the quality of education and mental health  of students, but also of the economy, particularly the education sector.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) earlier warned of the negative effects of the long suspension of face-to-face classes to the education and mental well-being of children.

The DepEd stressed that participating schools must have the written support and consent of parents of students who shall participate in the pilot.

“No learner shall be forced to attend the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes,” DepEd emphasized.

The pilot will be conducted with a combination of F to F classes in school and distance learning modalities for two months.

Likewise, the planned F-to-F classes shall be conducted at least of half  of the day every other week, with participating schools ensuring that class schedules are arranged equitably so that all qualified learners have the opportunity to the classes.

Prepared by DOH and DepEd and with the support of the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and other organizations specializing in children’s health, the operational guidelines on the pilot implementation of F-to-F learning modality provide health and safety standards in terms of personal protective equipment, sanitation, detection and referral, ventilation, contact tracing, and quarantine, coordination, and contingency measures.

It also lists steps to prepare school personnel, learners, and the community before the school reopening.

“As we made a step towards Ligtas na Balik Eskwela, we encourage our stakeholders to continue the Bayanihan for the success of this endeavor and the safety of our teachers and learners,” DepEd stressed. With Sam P. Medenilla

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