Neither teachers nor students are required to be vaccinated during the two-month pilot run.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the resumption of face-to-face classes in at most 120 public and private schools located in areas deemed low risk for COVID-19, the education minister disclosed on Monday.
According to Rappler, the pilot run, whose start date is yet to be determined, will include 20 private schools and “a maximum of 100 public schools in areas categorized as minimal risk” and that have “passed the readiness assessment” jointly set forth and executed by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH).
Only a set number of students across different grade levels will be allowed to physically return to classrooms. 12 learners in the kindergarten level, 16 learners from Grades 1 to 3, and 20 learners taking up technical vocational programs in senior high schools will be participating in the pilot run.
Students in the kindergarten level up to the third grade will only have 3 hours of learning at maximum, while senior high school students will at most have 4 hours. Beyond these, blended learning is expected to continue.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also said during Monday’s press briefing that limited face-to-face classes will commence in these schools for only half a day, every other week.
The initial phase will be monitored for two months and will start once DepEd receives the President’s signal. The final list of schools joining the pilot run, however, hasn’t yet been publicized.
“The pilot run of limited face-to-face classes is a shared responsibility of the DepEd, Department of Health, with the approval of IATF, and the local government units themselves and the parents,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.
Briones also said that teachers aged 65 and below and those who do not have co-morbidities can join the pilot run regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not.
Prior to the president’s say-so, the Philippines was one of 17 nations where schools have been shuttered for the entirety of the pandemic, per UNICEF’s report. It also joined Venezuela as the last two countries in the world that have yet to reopen schools since the pandemic struck in March 2020.