President Rodrigo Roa Duterte approved the conduct of limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas or in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). The President gave his approval on the conduct of limited face-to-face classes during his Talk to the People address, which was broadcast on July 21, 2020.
Upon recommendation of the Department of Education (DepEd), aside from the low-risk or at least MGCQ classification of an area, limited face-to-face classes will be subject to certain conditions, which were discussed by Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr in his July 21 press briefing.
“Ang face-to-face classes ay pinapayagan simula sa Enero ng susunod na taon, o sa third quarter po of the school year,” said Secretary Roque, adding that private schools are allowed to continue with their limited face-to-face classes that already started in June.
The Palace official also announced that the decision to allow limited face-to-face classes should be through the coordination among the DepEd, the local government unit (LGU), and local health authorities. The conduct of limited face-to-face classes will also be subject to the strict implementation of and adherence to minimum public health standards, as well as pilot testing and inspection to be done jointly with the National Task Force Against COVID-19 on the implementation of the required health standards.
“Anu-ano ba ho itong mga health standards na ito? Well kasama po dyan yung no mask, no entry sa school premises; hand washing and hand hygiene; regular disinfection sa school premises; pag-check sa temperature at mga iba pang sintomas; pagbawas ng class size sa labinglima hanggang dalawampung estudyante po lamang, at may physical arrangement ng mga upuan para magkaroon ng distancing,” explained Sec Roque.
Also part of the required health standards in schools is that there should be intermittent attendance in school to complement distance learning, control of flow of learners and personnel in entrance and exit, and no mass gatherings. Schools should also have visible instructions, signages, and markings, and a preparedness and case management system in coordination with the LGU and local health officials for contact tracing, testing, isolation and treatment.
In case of a surge of COVID-19 cases in schools, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, who was resource speaker in the same press briefing, said that the DepEd already has an established protocol to handle such situation. Sec Briones said that they will also follow whatever course of action that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will decide upon.
The Education Secretary also stressed that for parents who do not approve of face-to-face learning, they have a choice to have their children attend classes through the other modes of blended learning available, ensuring that even with internet connectivity problems, the DepEd with the assistance of the LGUs, will be able to implement the blended learning approach. She also underscored the need for cooperation among parents, LGUs, teachers and the DepEd, with the support of the national government to make it all happen.
The Office of the Presidential Spokesperson conducted today’s briefing, notwithstanding the threat of COVID-19 inside the Malacanan premises, after an employee tested positive for the virus.
“Sa inyo po ordinaryong araw lang sa inyong panunuod ng press briefing ang nangyari ngayon, pero sa amin po dito sa Malacanan, ito po ay isang malaking accomplishment. Pinasok po ang Malacanang ng COVID at hindi po kami nagpapigil sa COVID para magampanan ang aming katungkulan. Congratulations, Office of the Press Secretary! Congratulations, PTV4! Congratulations, RTVM,” Roque said.
The New Executive Building, where the press briefing is held, is closed to give way for disinfection of the building and contact tracing and swab testing of employees. ### OPS-PCOO