The Department of Education (DepEd) is ready to resume face-to-face classes in at least 120 schools, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said Friday.
“We have spent a lot of time studying the implementation of pilot face-to-face classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are ready for it,” Briones said during a Laging Handa briefing.
“We initially identified 1,900 schools, then it was reduced to 600 plus schools... now we are ready to implement face-to-face classes in 100 public schools and 20 private schools. We are just waiting for the go signal from the President,” she added.
Briones said that based on the advice of medical experts, younger learners should be prioritized in the resumption of face-to-face classes since it was necessary to develop socialization skills, study habits, and good manners and right conduct.
Based on DepEd records, at least 27.5 million students under formal education enrolled for the second straight school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, during which classes were held online and using printed learning materials.
This year's enrollment was slightly higher compared with last year’s 26.2 million.
Learners under non-formal education this year, meanwhile, reached 202,000.
“We can gradually shift in doing away with printed materials and further digitization of our learning materials, but health and safety remain the most important,” Briones said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide on resuming face-to-face classes, saying he did not want to gamble on children’s health.
Moreover, the Philippine government has yet to authorize COVID-19 inoculation among those aged 17 and below due to a lack of vaccines.
Only around 17 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated in the Philippines so far, with the government aiming to fully vaccinate 76.3 million individuals to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.
UNICEF earlier called for the resumption of face-to-face classes even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that lost learning may not be recovered if the resumption does not happen soon.
The DepEd, however, responded that resumption of face-to-face classes was not a magic wand that would solve the problem of learners who had a hard time comprehending lessons due to lack of access to a quality internet connection as well as computers or tablets.
The National Economic Development Authority has also said that the absence of face-to-face classes since March 2020 will result in P11 trillion worth of productivity loss spanning 40 years. — DVM, GMA News