Duterte approves limited face-to-face classes in areas with low-risk of COVID-19 spread

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 21 2020 09:50 AM | Updated as of Jul 21 2020 03:05 PM

Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) hold a protest from inside a vehicle in front of the Department of Education headquarters in Pasig City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has approved a proposal to hold limited face-to-face classes in modified general community quarantine areas classified as having low-risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission.

Duterte gave the green light during a meeting with the government's pandemic task force on Monday night after Education Secretary Leonor Briones presented the proposal.

"I'm with you on this one...Okay ako," the President told Briones during the meeting.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also confirmed the chief executive's approval of the proposal.

From August this year until January 2021, Briones said the Department of Education (DepEd) would assess schools to see if these have enough facilities to cater to limited classes with the observance of minimum health standards.

Face-to-face classes will be allowed starting January 2021 or the third quarter of the school year.

"The next is, we were thinking that up to January 2021, during the third quarter, we can start allowing between August and at present, we will be assessing the schools," she said.

The education chief stressed that face-to-face classes would only be allowed in select areas for around 1 or 2 days a week.

Decisions to allow limited face-to-face classes will be made in coordination among the DepEd, concerned local government unit, and local health officials, Briones said.

Areas that will be allowed to hold limited physical classes should also be scrutinized by the government's inter-agency task force (IATF) on pandemic response, she added.

"We are saying that maybe we can allow limited face-to-face learning but to be strictly regulated in light of present conditions," Briones told the President.

She cited as examples areas that have requested for limited face-to-face classes such as Siquijor, Dinagat Islands, and Siargao.

At a Palace press briefing, Briones said parents who do not want to their children to attend face-to-face classes may still avail of other blended learning modalities, such as online platforms, printed modules, television and radio.

The DepEd has released minimum health standards that the agency’s offices and schools must follow.

The guidelines include a testing protocol in schools and offices; temperature checks prior to entering schools and offices; ensured availability of soaps, alcohol, and other disinfectants; and establishment of school clinics, and sanitation and hygiene facilities, among others. -- With a report from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News