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  • 638 Schools Including 36 In NCR Identified In Pilot Run Of Face-To-Face Classes

    Kinder to Grade 3 plus senior high students will be prioritized in the implementation.
    by Darlene Estandarte .
638 Schools Including 36 In NCR Identified In Pilot Run Of Face-To-Face Classes
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/Casezy idea
  • A total of 638 schools in the Philippines, including 36 from the National Capital Region (NCR), have been identified as eligible for the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes in areas identified as “low-risk” for COVID-19.

    Out of this number, a maximum of 120 schools (100 public schools and 20 private schools) across the country will be included in the pilot phase. The recommendations were made by the Department of Education (DepEd) regional directors after passing the eligibility criteria of the School Readiness Assessment Tool (SRAT).

    The schools will be subjected to further filtering after revalidation of the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT) and risk classification of the Department of Health (DOH).

    The schools for the pilot run have not yet been named. There were also no details given on the official start date of limited face-to-face classes, and the areas classifed with minimal risk.

    The guidelines for the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes were presented during a ceremonial signing of the joint memorandum circular between DepEd and DOH. It was done via Facebook Live on Monday, September 27, 2021.

    The virtual ceremonial signing was headed by Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

    Guidelines for limited face-to-face classes in the Philippines

    During the briefing, DepEd Planning Service director Roger B. Masapol, presented the operational guidelines for limited face-to-face classes. Here is what we can expect from the pilot implementation.

    Which schools will participate in the pilot run? 

    Only schools located in minimal risk areas and those that have passed the SSAT will be included. The participating schools include:

    • 95 public elementary schools
    • 5 senior high schools (SHS) that require workshops and laboratories
    • 20 private schools

    These schools will need to the support of their LGUs (local government units, whether it be from the barangay, municipality, city, or province where the schools are located) in the form of a resolution or letter to participate in the pilot run. Parents of students who will participate in the implementation would also need to pass a written consent form.

    Private schools must also submit a formal letter expressing their interest to implement face-to-face classes and a report on lesson recommendations. They should also have a plan for the implementation with clear health protocols.

    What grade levels will be included in the pilot run?

    The pilot run will focus on the following grade levels:

    • Kindergarten to Grade 3
    • Senior high school students that require workshops and laboratories

    Voluntary learners who are within the city or municipality where the school is located will also be allowed provided they have a signed consent form from their parents.

    Learners that will be considered for the pilot run should be able to

    • Walk to school
    • With available private transport
    • With regulated transportation

    They should have no existing comorbidities and students will be prioritized based on “greatest need” for face-to-face classes.

    Will teachers be vaccinated?

    All school personnel must be 65 years old and below with no diagnosed comorbidities and must be fully vaccinated, according to Masapol. DepEd and DOH will coordinate with LGUs to vaccinate school personnel. The IATF has also categorized teachers and school personnel under A4 priority. 

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    Masopol's remarks contradict Secretary Briones' earlier statement that COVID-19 vaccination will not be required of teachers. The JMC also states that teachers and other employees are eligible to join the pilot run “regardless of the vaccination status,” according to a report by PhilStar.

    In a report by the Philippine News Agency, Sec. Duque said, "while vaccination is not mandatory, classroom learning will be limited to vaccinated teaching personnel. So as not to disenfranchise unvaccinated teachers, they may teach using distance or online modules. This also presents options for parents who are still hesitant to send their children to school.”

    Will students be required to be vaccinated against other diseases?

    The DOH supports vaccination of learners for other diseases. Schools shall screen vaccination records of children. DOH will also coordinate with LGUs and private pediatricians to complete routine infant vaccines.

    What happens if a student gets infected with COVID-19?

    DepEd and DOH will cooperate with local health authorities in contact tracing activities if there is any suspect/probable/confirmed positive case in the school. The agencies are also prepared to transition from limited face-to-face to full distance learning if the school needs to go on lockdown.

    What can we expect during the pilot run?

    A blended learning approach will be applied, alternating one week of straight face-to-face classes and one week of straight distance learning.

    Only subjects that require workshops or laboratories for SHS will be allowed for face-to-face classes, and the rest of the subjects will be on distance learning modality.

    There should only be a maximum of four to five hours of classes in school for Grades 1 to 3 and a maximum of three hours for Kindergarten.


    Class size is also limited to:

    • 12 learners for Kinder
    • 16 learners for Grades 1 to 3
    • 20 learners for SHS
    • 12 learners of SHS students in TVL workshops or laboratories

    What safety measures will the schools have against COVID-19?

    School activities and group work that involves close contact will not be allowed. Large gatherings and activities are also strictly prohibited. During break time, a staggered hour system will be followed. 

    Classrooms will also be redesigned to ensure physical distancing of 1 to 2 meters apart, with the help of visual cues like ground markings and arrows. Temperature checking and contact tracing before entering school premises are also considered. 

    To ensure proper ventilation of classrooms and to maximize natural airflow, open windows are required.

    DepEd and DOH also assured proper sanitation and hygiene facilities from schools with provision of face masks and emergency health kits to learners, teachers, and school personnel. There must also be daily health checks inside the classroom and a school clinic for health emergencies.

    For protective measures and sanitation practices, hand soaps, sanitizers, and alcohol-based solutions in key areas of the school will be deployed.

    How long will the pilot run be?

    The duration of limited face-to-face classes will be for two months. Expansion will depend on the result of the assessment of the pilot implementation.

    Watch the full video of the ceremonial signing here:


    In Japan, schools remain open despite the pandemic. Click here to read the safety measures they employ.

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