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56.89% of all public schools nationwide resumed face-to-face classes — DepEd’s Briones

A total of 25,668 or 56.89% of public schools nationwide have already gone back to in-person learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) said.

In her presentation during President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People aired Tuesday, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said they are expecting 5,948,640 public school students from all grade levels to participate in face-to-face classes.

She noted that this number is 25.61% of the 23,230,898 total enrollees in the public school sector in the current academic year.

Despite this, Briones said that it remains a “challenge” for DepEd that only 676 private schools or 5.47% of its total number have resumed face-to-face classes. At least 226,991 students or 7.09% of the private school learners are expected to enjoin this development.

“It is ironic that at the height of the debates on face-to-face schooling, there were many demands for face-to-face, but now that we have approved it, there are only 676 private schools opening face-to-face,” she added.

Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon of the National Task Force Against (NTF) COVID-19 pointed out that there were various reasons why there was a “resistance” from private schools to hold in-person classes again.

“The most compelling of which is that some parents in the private schools are still quite apprehensive about letting their children go back to face-to-face classes, which of course is the right of every parent,” he explained.

All in all, there are 6,175,631 students conducting face-to-face classes in 26,344 schools nationwide.

In February, DepEd authorized all regional directors to begin the “progressive expansion” phase of face-to-face classes for both public and private schools, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of the department's recommendation to expand face-to-face classes in areas under Alert Level 2 and below.

The pilot testing of face-to-face classes in the country started in November 2021 for both public and private schools that were subject to strict health protocols.

Only vaccinated teachers may participate in the face-to-face classes, while vaccinated learners are preferred, DepEd.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they will ramp up the “relatively low” vaccination coverage among students in the basic education for their safe return to schools.

Dizon echoed this, noting that the NTF has at least 15 million vaccine doses for the pediatric population aged 5-11 that are ready to be distributed in schools just in case. — RSJ, GMA News