DepEd eyes expansion of in-person classes

Updated at 12:17 am

THE Department of Education (DepEd) will recommend the expansion of face-to-face classes, following the positive feedback from those who participated in the pilot run from November to December.

Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the positive feedback from stakeholders reflects the high level of students’ attendance and their feeling of safety while inside the campus.

He said that there was also a very positive evaluation of the teaching and learning process during face-to-face classes.

There were also refinements suggested by the department, including the installation of more physical barriers.

In an earlier report, DepEd said that participating schools in the limited face-to-face classes have shown best practices in containing the spread of Covid-19 while in school, including the strict implementation of health protocols and the use of contactless facilities for sanitation.

Education Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Malcolm Garma added that close coordination with local government units (LGUs) was key in implementing minimum public health and safety measures in schools.

“I think this is the opportunity insofar as education is concerned — to really showcase the shared responsibility and coordination between the schools, the community, the parents and the LGUs. We saw the effort of all our stakeholders, especially the LGUs,” he said.

Garma added that the conduct of orientation among parents of participating students also helped ensure that they know what to do under certain circumstances, such as not to send their children to school when experiencing flu symptoms such as coughs or colds.

He added that emerging good practices reported by the schools will be considered by the department in planning for the expansion phase of the face-to-face classes.

Malaluan, however, said that they will meet with the Department of Health (DoH) on Monday to discuss the Covid-19 outlook in the country and the Health department’s recommendation to push for the holding of face-to-face classes.

Afterward, DepEd will send to President Rodrigo Duterte the report on the assessment of the pilot run of face-to-face classes and their proposal on its expansion.

“With the results of the pilot implementation, we will strongly recommend the progressive expansion of face-to-face classes even under the present situation, but subject to the alert levels and developments in [the] Covid-19 situation,” Malaluan added.

The Education official assured that they will make informed decisions on the expansion phase following the advice of DoH to ensure the safety of students and teachers.

He also suggested the possible institutionalization of the Alert Level system — similar to the public storm warning signal system — to automatically postpone the conduct of face-to-face classes as areas were placed under a certain alert level.

UST, DLSU suspend classes

Following the directive of the city government of Manila, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the De La Salle University (DLSU) have announced the suspension of classes and office work.

The suspension at UST will be until January 21 while DLSU will be closed until January 22.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso declared on Thursday a week-long health break for students and faculty members until January 21 in all public and private academic institutions in the city “to give students and teachers a breathing space amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the threat of the omicron variant.”

DLSU said that all classes from kindergarten up to the graduate level, including the College of Law, remain suspended, and that work is also suspended for those reporting on-campus, as well as those working from home.

It added that the decision to suspend classes was also in view of the result of their latest health survey conducted among the community.

DLSU earlier postponed classes and work from January 10 to 15 after their previous health survey revealed that close to 60 percent of its community members were currently sick.

UST, meanwhile, announced that classes in the junior high school level will resume on January 24, while those for senior high school, tertiary and graduate levels will start on January 26.

It added that online assessment and payment remain open for those who were already advised, while enrollment will resume on January 24.

UST also previously suspended classes from January 10 to 15 and adjusted the start of the second term to January 25, but this was again pushed due to recent Covid-19 developments.