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Duterte OKs 'limited' face-to-face learning in low-risk areas

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has recommended the conduct of face-to-face classes in areas considered as "low risk" for COVID-19 transmission but on a limited basis — a recommendation that got President Rodrigo Duterte's approval.

"I'm with you on this," Duterte told Briones after she presented in details the Department of Education's (DepEd) recommendation during a meeting held Monday but aired on Tuesday morning.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Duterte approved of the DepEd's proposal. "Yes," he told reporters via text.

Malacañang later said the holding of limited face-to-face classes will start January next year subject to government conditions.

Physical classes

Briones, during her presentation, said that the physical classes in selected parts of the country could be held once or twice a week only.

"For basic education, maybe we can allow limited face-to-face learning but to be strictly regulated in the light of present conditions," she said.

Stringent health standards will be imposed, and the classrooms to be used must be conducive for social distancing, Briones said. DepEd and National Task Force Against COVID-19 personnel will conduct inspections, she said.

Briones added that local government units must also be ready to support the schools that will hold face-to-face classes through the Special Education Fund, as the administrative cost of maintaining the minimum health standards is expected to be costly.

Ensuring that these school facilities are also safe from other disasters is another thing, according to the Cabinet official.

Briones underscored that limited face-to-face classes will close the equity issues on students' access to gadgets that may be needed in distance learning.

Briones first broached the idea of limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas last week during a meeting with Duterte and other Cabinet officials. 

Duterte then directed the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to submit position papers on the possibility of face-to-face classes in low-risk areas. —KBK/RSJ, GMA News