Only fully vaccinated teachers will be allowed to participate in pilot face-to-face classes in areas deemed low-risk for COVID-19, according to the guidelines set by the government.
The guidelines were approved on Monday by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DepEd), whose chief, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, said last week that teachers, regardless of vaccination status, may participate in the pilot run.
“We agreed that all school personnel— teachers and non-teaching [staff]— should be fully vaccinated when they participate in the pilot face-to-face [classes],” DepEd Planning Service director Roger Masapol said in an online press conference.
Masapol also said the teachers must be aged 65 and below and have no comorbidities.
“We are committed to providing additional protection for our teachers through vaccination. While vaccination is not mandatory, classroom learning will be limited to vaccinated teaching personnel. So as not to disenfranchise unvaccinated teachers, they may teach using distance or online modules. This also presents options for parents who are still hesitant to send their children to school,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.
The DOH, however, assured that the government would accelerate the vaccine rollout covering both public and private school teachers and non-teaching personnel.
The pilot implementation will involve a maximum of 120 schools across the country. Participation in the two-month program is voluntary.
The learners must have no existing comorbidities.
“This will only be applicable for the schools that passed the strict vetting process by DepEd and DOH, and have the support of their respective local government units,” Briones said in a statement.
Under the guidelines, the class size will be a maximum of 12 learners for Kindergarten, 16 learners for Grades 1 to 3, 20 learners for senior high school, and 12 learners for senior high school in technical-vocational livelihood workshops/science laboratories.
The pilot will feature a combined implementation of face-to-face classes and distance learning.
“Class schedules shall be arranged equitably so that all qualified learners with parents’ consent will have the opportunity to attend face-to-face classes,” Masapol said.
Class sessions will run for a maximum of four-and-a-half hours, except for Kindergarten (three hours).
The DepEd said it drafted a contingency plan with recommended actions for different scenarios.
“The scenarios range from where there is a suspected case presenting symptoms, to a scenario where there is resurgence of COVID-19 cases in multiple barangays. This sets the policy on when schools should impose a lockdown,” it said.
Masapol said the expansion would depend on the result of the evaluation of the pilot run, which was recently approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.—AOL, GMA News