NCR starts pilot face-to-face classes amid COVID-19 pandemic
Twenty-eight public schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Monday started conducting pilot face-to-face classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to reports on GMA News’ Unang Balita, these schools prepared for the return of students to campuses after around two years of closure.
In Quezon City, the Payatas B Annex Elementary School welcomed back over 100 students including 48 from Kindergarten and 64 from the Grade 2 Level, according to a report of James Agustin.
Only 12 Kindergarten students are allowed per classroom and only 16 for Grade 2.
The Kindergarten class is set from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. while the Grade 2 class is from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
At least eight classrooms will be used at the Payatas B Annex Elementary School for the pilot face-to-face classes.
Next week, Grade 1 and Grade 3 students will have their face-to-face classes.
At the Pasig Elementary School, only 13 Grade 1 students and 14 Grade 2 students will participate in the pilot face-to-face classes, according to a report by Mariz Umali.
The seats in the classrooms are assigned to specific students as they cannot switch chairs.
In Taguig City, the Senator Renato Cayetano Memorial Science and Technology High School also welcomed back students to the campus, according to a report by Bam Alegre.
Fifteen students in Grades 11 and 12 are participating in the face-to-face classes, the local government unit said.
COVID-19 kits are also available in the school. The LGU said all teachers and non-teaching personnel have been vaccinated.
In Muntinlupa, the Tunasan National High School uses QR codes to notify the parents that the students have already arrived in school, according to a report on Unang Balita.
More than 2K students
Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said on Monday that there were more than 2,300 students from Metro Manila who have participated in this pilot in-person classes, the majority of whom were in Kindergarten to Grade 3.
He said that only 14 to 16 students are allowed to enter per classroom to ensure physical distancing among students, while the number for senior high may be increased to up to 20.
“Napakahalaga nitong sa NCR dahil alam naman natin na ‘yung (the reopening of classes in NCR is important because as we all know the) character of NCR is highly urbanized and congested area, so very important ito. So far, it has been smooth,” Malaluan said during the Laging Handa public briefing, noting that there have been no adverse reports so far.
He emphasized that the Education sector started the reopening of classes with the younger age group based on their consultation with the public health experts, including the Department of Health (DOH). They just appealed for the senior high schools, particularly those in tech-voc programs, to be included in this campaign.
“Based on the data, it is this age group that have shown greater resilience to COVID, both in terms of being infected as well as the duration and severity of the symptoms. They are the ones that would be safer to start with the face-to-face classes,” he said in an interview on CNN.
Malaluan said that DepEd will cover all grade levels in the resumption of in-person classes during the expansion phase next year. He said that the ongoing pilot run will be the basis for the recommendation of this possible expansion.
The DepEd on Thursday said 177 schools, including 28 public schools from the NCR, will join the pilot run of in-person classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic starting December 6.
The Philippine National Police on Sunday said it was prepared to provide security for the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in 28 Metro Manila schools starting Monday.
Malaluan said that this may be the last batch of schools that would resume the in-person classes this year as the Christmas break of students will start on December 20. The participating schools will then submit their assessment and the consolidated report will be presented to Duterte by year end.
“Since so far ay maganda ang tinatakbo, ang ating ina-anticipate ay ang magiging recommendation [ng] pagpapalawak nito sa tinatawag naming expanded phase early next year,” he added during the Laging Handa public briefing.
(Since it has been running well so far, what we are anticipating is the recommendation for the expanded phase by early next year.)
The DepEd earlier said that the assessment period for the initial run of pilot face-to-face classes will be until December 22, 2021. The pilot study is set to end on January 31, 2022. If Duterte approves, the expansion will start on March 7, 2022.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, on Monday welcomed the participation of more schools in the pilot run of the face-to-face classes.
However, Gatchalian underscored the need to be vigilant in view of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus threatening the world. He said vaccination of teachers and eligible learners should be accelerated, minimum public health standards continuously implemented, and COVID-19 testing for teachers conducted regularly.
“Magandang balita ang pagpapalawig ng dry run ng limited face-to-face classes ngunit dapat ipagpatuloy natin ang pag-iingat at pagpapabakuna, lalo na’t hinaharap natin ang banta ng Omicron variant. Gamitin natin ang pagkakataong meron tayo upang matuto kung paano natin matitiyak ang ligtas na pagbabalik ng mga kabataan sa mga paaralan,” he said.
(It is good news that the dry run of the limited face-to-face classes was extended. However, vigilance and vaccination should be continued, especially with the threat of the Omicron variant. Let us use the opportunities we have to learn how we can ensure the safe return of students to schools.)
In November, around 100 public schools and 20 private schools in other regions initially started the pilot run of face-to-face classes set by the DepEd.
No cases of COVID-19 infection were recorded during the first week of the implementation of the pilot face-to-face classes, the DepEd reported last week.
Face-to-face classes were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and students were either given learning modules or attended online classes since then. —KG, GMA News