MANILA — The Department of Education will wait for the advice of the Department of Health before proceeding with the expansion of in-person classes, Secretary Leonor Briones said Wednesday.
The DepEd earlier said it would reopen more schools for physical classes this January as part of the expansion phase.
However, in recent weeks, the country saw a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, suspected to be driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.
"Kakatanggap lang namin ng advice galing sa Department of Health na kung pwede hintayin natin hanggang matapos iyong assessment period sa January 15," Briones said in a press conference.
(We just received an advice from the Department of Health asking for us to wait until the assessment period is done by January 15.)
Briones said the DepEd was also finalizing its report on the pilot phase of in-person classes, which would be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The DepEd is currently undertaking a three-phased plan to gradually reopen basic education schools, most of which have been closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pilot phase, which included nearly 300 schools, took place from mid-November to December.
Meanwhile, Education Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma reiterated in-person classes are suspended in areas under Alert Level 3.
Local officials in Alert Levels 1 and 2 can choose to "defer" the conduct of in-person classes, he said.
"Because of the omicron, there might be some local government units of the areas where our pilot classes are implementing, baka i-defer din muna nila (they might defer it for now)," Garma said.
Briones said the DepEd was prepared to implement the expansion phase, depending on the risk assessment of areas. Similarly, the agency is ready to shift to remote learning as COVID-19 cases continued to rise, she added.