MANILA — The Department of Education said Tuesday it would consult with the Department of Health and Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases on the possible resumption of in-person classes following the detection of the Delta coronavirus variant.
The DepEd will seek guidance from the DOH and IATF as it plans to submit recommendations to President Rodrigo Duterte, who has the final say on whether or not physical classes will be allowed again, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.
"Ang Department of Education, kung siya ay magbibigay ng advice sa president, ay kailangan ding komunsulta sa IATF, sa Department of Health dahil ang expertise ng mga pag-aaral nila [ay] sa itong variant na ito ," Briones said in a public briefing.
(The Department of Education, if it will give an advice to the president, needs to consult with the IATF and the Department of Health because they have the expertise in studying the new variant.)
"Sabi ni Presidente [Duterte] na kailangan mabigyan siya ng assurance na ang mga bata ay safe," she added.
(The President said we need to give an assurance that the children will be safe.)
A recent study found that the Delta coronavirus variant, first identified in India, doubled the risk of hospitalization.
The matter on face-to-face classes was raised during the briefing after regional leaders of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund called for the safe reopening of schools, calling it "an urgent priority."
Briones said the DepEd was also advised by the DOH and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. to study whether it was necessary to have children inoculated against COVID-19 upon the reopening of schools.
The education chief assured the public that the department was ready for the next school year, whether it would be conducted with limited face-to-face classes or through purely remote means.
"Patuloy ang pag-open ng schools, pero walang face-to-face [classes] kung sakali mang considered dangerous itong bagong variant na ito," Briones said.
(We will continue to open the schools without face-to-face classes in case the new variant is considered dangerous.)
The DepEd planned to hold a dry run of limited face-to-face classes in certain areas earlier this year but Duterte cancelled it due to the threat of more contagious coronavirus variants.
School opening date
The department will provide 3 dates to Duterte for the opening of the next school year, Briones said.
One recommendation will be to start the school year in August, which is compliant with Republic Act 7797 that requires the school opening to take place from June to August, she said.
Briones said the department would also suggest opening School Year 2021-2022 on the first or second week of September since a new law allows Duterte to adjust the start of classes during a state of emergency or calamity.