Safety assessment tool revised as more schools resume in-person classes

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2022 01:36 PM

Students observe safety protocol inside the Ricardo P Cruz St. Elementary School in Taguig City, during the first day of the pilot face-to-face classes in the National Capital Region on December 6, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Students observe safety protocol inside the Ricardo P Cruz St. Elementary School in Taguig City, during the first day of the pilot face-to-face classes in the National Capital Region on December 6, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Department of Education (DepEd) said Wednesday it modified its school safety assessment tool (SSAT) to make it easier for learning institutions to meet the requirements for limited in-person classes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SSAT is a checklist the determines the readiness of elementary and secondary schools to hold classroom instruction during the pandemic.

"Mas pinadali natin, we have streamlined already the requirements... Maraming school ang nahihirapan to comply with the safety assessment tool," Education Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma said in a press conference, adding that the new SSAT may "come out within the week or latest by next week."

(We made it easier, we have streamlined already the requirements... Many schools found it difficult to comply with the safety assessment tool.)

With the new checklist, "We are expecting that more schools will qualify to become nominated [for limited in-person classes]," Garma said.

He said schools that have complied with the initial SSAT no longer need to fulfill the "streamlined" version.

As of March 22, up to 10,196 basic education schools across the country have started conducting limited in-person classes, a rise from the 9,025 reported on March 17, according to Garma's presentation.

Garma said the DepEd is also finalizing its guidelines on the granting of safety seals, which he said would be automatically given to schools compliant with the SSAT.

The DepEd will also release revised guidelines on conducting limited in-person classes, Garma said, explaining that policy adjustments were made "so that it will be more relevant to our current situation."

Philippine elementary and secondary schools began holding limited in-person classes in late 2021, nearly two years since campuses were shuttered due to the threat of COVID-19.

Despite the resumption of face-to-face instruction, schools also continue to implement remote learning.

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