Palace: Conduct of limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas allowed starting January 2021

(Eagle News) — The Palace on Tuesday, July 21, said the conduct of limited face-to-face classes will be allowed starting January 2021, although private schools that already started conducting the same in June 2020 will be allowed to continue.

The Palace added the localized face-to-face classes–which should only be “intermittent” and shall complement distance learning–shall only be allowed in low-risk areas or those that are already at least under a modified general community quarantine or in the transition phase between general community quarantine and the new normal.

There should also be “due coordination between the Department of Education, the local government units (LGUs) concerned, and the local health authorities,” and a  pilot testing and inspection should be held jointly with the National Task Force Against Covid-19 for the observance of required health standards and protocols.

The Palace said stringent health protocols should also be followed.

These include:

  • The enforcement of a no mask, no entry policy in school premises
  • The requirement for hand washing and hand hygiene
  • A regular disinfection in school premises
  • Checking for temperature and respiratory symptoms
  • Reduction in class size to 15 to 20 (maximum) and physical arrangement of seats conforming to required distances
  • Controls of flow of learners and personnel in entrance and exit
  • Ban on mass gatherings
  • Presence of instructions, signage and markings
  • Preparedness and case management system in coordination with LGUs and local health authorities for contact tracing, isolation and treatment

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 20, approved the Department of Education’s proposal for  limited face-to-face classes to be allowed in areas where there is a low risk for COVID-19.

The DepEd had proposed that these classes be conducted only once or twice a week, noting that the conduct of the same would close the gap between those who have the resources for distance learning and those who do not.

A teachers’ group, however, said the conduct of the same was still “very dangerous” for teachers and students, noting that an easing of restrictions has so far led to more COVID-19 cases.

Classes for the next school year start on Aug. 24.