MANILA — More than 2,000 public elementary and senior high school (SHS) students in Metro Manila are set to return to in-person classes on Monday, an official from the Department of Education (DepEd) said Sunday.
The students — who are in Kindergarten to Grade 3 and SHS — come from the 28 schools across the capital region that were selected to join the pilot phase of in-person classes amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
"Isa po tayo sa pinakahuli [na nag-face-to-face classes] dahil kabababa lang ng ating alert level sa level 2," Wilfredo Cabral, officer-in-charge of the DepEd's office for the undersecretary of human resources, said in an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(We're one of the last areas in our country to hold face-to-face classes because we just shifted to alert level 2.)
The capital region eased to Alert Level 2 in early November as the number of COVID-19 infections began to drop.
The 28 Metro Manila schools are part of 177 schools that were added for the pilot phase, which began in mid-November in 120 public and private schools.
"Iyan po (mga paaralan) ay dumaan sa masusing paghahanda. Lahat ito ay sumunod doon sa patakaran na kailangang ma-achieve iyong ating safety seal using the school safety assessment tool," said Cabral.
(These schools went through stringent preparations. All of them followed the protocol that they need to achieve a safety seal using the school safety assessment tool.)
Based on the DepEd's list, of the capital region's 17 localities, only Pateros will not join the pilot run.
Cabral reiterated that protocols are in place in case a student or personnel tests positive for COVID-19, with some barangays even providing ambulances near the school.
"Kung mayroon lalabas na kaso, whatever variant, stop po agad ang ating implementation [ng face-to-face]," he said.
(If a case emerges, whatever variant, the implementation of face-to-face classes in that school will immediately stop.)
The pilot is the first of the government's three-phased plan to reopen basic education schools after nearly two years of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students who are not participating in the pilot run will continue to study at home through distance learning.
Some 27.2 million students are enrolled this school year in both public and private schools from Kindergarten until high school.