MANILA - Some schools participating in the limited implementation of face-to-face classes would no longer use plastic barriers as these could do more harm than good.
The Department of Education said it has provided an advisory on the use of plastic barriers in classrooms, citing studies by experts that plastic barriers could impede air flow.
"One of the inputs from the DOH is there are also findings that putting up these barriers sometimes it impedes air circulation, and second it also increases surface area that may be contaminated, increases the surface area for disinfection," Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said on ANC's Headstart.
"These have already been provided to the ground I think some of them have been dismantling this as part of precaution," he said on Friday.
On Thursday, Mayor Vico Sotto announced that Pasig City was dropping the use of plastic barriers in classrooms.
"Ganito ang itsura sa loob ng classroom. Gaya ng sabi ng maraming eksperto- the key is good ventilation and air flow," said Sotto, as he showcased a classroom in his area.
(This is how it looks like inside the classroom. As experts said, the key is good ventilation and air flow.)
Meanwhile, some 117 more public schools will join the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes beginning December 6, DepEd said.
This is on top of 100 public schools and 18 private schools that have resumed in-person learning so far, said Malaluan. Of the additional schools, 28 are located in Metro Manila, he said.
"(Education) Secretary (Leonor) Briones has already instructed that all schools nationwide should already start administering the school safety assessment and preparing for face-to-face classes in the expanded phase anticipated to be early next year."
In-person classes are limited to 3 hours for kindergarten and 4 hours for higher grades, according to Malaluan.
"If we add to that, that will mean they may be staying in school beyond lunchtime and of course having lunch together in school can present further risks," he said.
"These are public health considerations we will have to discuss with our counterparts in the Department of Health."
The education agency is also looking into blended learning, or a combination of distance learning and in-person classes, for the expanded phase of face-to-face learning next year, according to Malaluan.
The DepEd is eyeing a class size of 25 to 30 for lower grades, he said.
"Many of the issues being raised will be fully resolved in the expanded phase early next year. Certainly the lessons from this phase of being able to introduce distance learning can be a feature of blended learning in the future, even post-COVID, especially for congested areas like Metro Manila," he said.
"If the blended learning can be really proven effective...then this can be a feature towards the new normal. Studies and discussions are being done as we speak on this matter."
In higher education, the inter-agency body leading the country’s COVID-19 response has allowed a “phased implementation” of limited face-to-face classes for colleges and universities in areas under Alert Level 1 to 3.
--With reports from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News