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Blended learning in small private schools in NCR up to IATF —DepEd official

Blended learning in private schools in Metro Manila with small student populations is up to the government's COVID-19 task force, the Department of Education said Wednesday. 

Asked if the DepEd is open to allowing blended learning and some face-to-face interactions in such schools, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan told ANC that this is subject to the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. 

"Right now we're talking about August 24 anyway and this is still a continuing policy discussion," he said in the television interview. 

"I think when we near that time of August 24, if there will be a change or reconsideration on the part of the President then that will be considered. The secretary, as you might note, is giving the President a constant update on our readiness for August 24," he said. 

School year 2020-2021 will start on August 24 and end on April 30, 2021. 

Malaluan said around 11.5 million students have enrolled since enrollment started last June 1. 

He said DepEd is preparing for remote learning that includes online platforms, printed modules, "offline digital" platforms, television, and radio. Earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would look for funds to buy transistor radios to be used for education in far-flung areas.

"I think what the President was saying, because the secretary was also saying 'blended' learning, which is a combination of those modalities, then if there is no available technology in those areas which is an infrastructure limitation, then at least they will have something other than printed modules," Malaluan said. 

"But we are preparing for printed modules. In fact even in Metro Manila, there will be printed modules. It will not be completely online or digital," Malaluan said. 

Citing a Department of Health administrative order, the official said face-to-face classes are prohibited in areas in moderate and high risk of COVID-19 but are an option in low-risk areas, subject to health standards. 

Malaluan also said the DepEd has reduced the K-12 curriculum across year levels and subject areas from more than 15,000 learning competencies to about 5,600 "most essential" learning competencies. 

Duterte said last May that classes will remain suspended in the country until a COVID-19 vaccine is available

The resumption of classes, according to DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla, does not necessarily mean teachers and students would be going to school every day as the department will be implementing distance learning. —Nicole-Anne C. Lagrimas/KG, GMA News