MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the holding of pilot face-to-face classes in areas with minimal risk for COVID-19, Malacañang announced Monday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the classes will be held on half-days and will only be every other week.
It will be the Department of Health that will determine the risk for COVID-19 in several areas.
The classes should also pass the "safety assessment" of the Department of Education (DepEd).
This should also have the written support and consent of the parents of students, Roque said.
Additionally, this should have the support of local government units through resolutions or letters of support, he added.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the start of pilot classes has no exact date yet but it will be implemented in 100 public schools. The department is also reviewing the application of 20 private schools to conduct in-person classes.
She added that the implementation of in-person classes will be based on the "preparedness of schools."
Under the approved guidelines for face-to-face classes, Kindergarten classes will have 12 students while Grade 1 to 3 classes will have 16 students.
Technical vocational classes, meanwhile, can have as many as 20 students.
Classes in Kindergarten to Grade 3 must only last for three hours maximum, Briones said.
The pilot run will last for a two-month period, which will be "closely monitored," Briones said.
The DepEd is looking to eventually extend the implementation of face-to-face classes to more schools when the pilot classes prove to be safe and effective.
This will be based on periodic risk assessments, Briones added.
"Kung safe ang pilot and it is effective then we will gradually increase pero ang mahalaga, bantayan natin kung ano ang risk assessment. Kapag may pagbabago sa risk assessment then talagang ititigil natin," she said.
(If the pilot proves to be safe and effective then we will gradually increase but what's important is we are monitoring our risk assessment. We will stop it if there are changes in the risk assessment.)
The Philippine government was supposed to hold the pilot run for in-person classes earlier this year but President Duterte cancelled this over the emergence of more infectious COVID-19 variants.
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