MANILA - Two provincial chief executives on Thursday suggested limiting the number of pupils, holding staggered schedules and ensuring readiness in the barangay level as the education department prepared to hold a dry run of face-to-face classes beginning January, even as the threat of COVID-19 remains.
Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said that the details of the dry run, which President Rodrigo Duterte approved, has yet to be discussed with them.
"So this has to be discussed-- anong proseso, saang area specifically sa Leyte (the process and specific areas in Leyte)," said Petilla.
Petilla said this is important as the local government units are ones that would have to deal with the possible surge in COVID-19 infections.
“But it really has to be closely coordinated sa local government kasi halimbawa 'yung may ginawang ganun baka magka-surge. In the end, ang surge ng COVID cases babalik din sa mayors at local government, sa mga barangay, ang trabaho,” Petilla said.
(But it really has to be closely coordinated with the local government because if there is a surge in COVID cases it is the mayors, the local government, the barangay who would have to deal with it.)
On Wednesday, the Department of Education said 1,114 schools have been “nominated” to take part in its dry run but that the number of actual participating schools would be lower.
“It has to be discussed in detail, hindi lang 'yan by municipality, ang pag discuss, by barangay. We have 1,394 barangays, dapat isa-isahin 'yan kung ready ba 'yan o hindi,” he said.
(It has to be discussed in detail not only at the municipal level, but by barangay. They have to check the readiness of each of our 1,394 barangays.)
Petilla suggested implementing the dry run in the barangay level. He said they have many villages that are COVID-free, particularly in far-flung areas.
It may be problematic to hold the dry run in poblacions (central villages) as these are already urbanized areas where many people cross borders for work.
He added that since March, the province has recorded around 2,900 COVID-19 cases. Most of the patients, he said, were asymptomatic.
DepEd already told municipalities not to use schools as isolation or quarantine facilities by January, he added.
“Sabi ko san namin ilalagay 'yung mga positive lalo na ang province na kulang ang facilities. Kung pakawalan namin sa kalye 'yan dadami ang cases eh di magsu-suspend din kami ng klase,” he said.
(Where are we going to place positive patients, especially in areas that lack facilities? Cases may increase if we just allow them to roam free and this could force us to suspend classes.)
Gov. Danilo Suarez of Quezon, meanwhile, proposed a staggered schedule for his province and limited class size.
“Three days a week nandoon 'yung teacher para lahat natuturuan. This time matuturuan mo pero staggered lang,” he said.
(The teacher would be there three days a week to teach students. This time they’ll be able to teach students on a staggered basis.)
There is nothing like face-to-face classes, he said, but they still need to check if their schools are ready for it.
"What we're doing, we're geographically scanning all our areas, mga school rooms, ilang school rooms. Mayroon tayong 4 school rooms, mayroong 2 levels. Ang priority namin 'yung maraming eskuwelahan," he said.
(What we're doing, we're geographically scanning all our areas to check the number of school rooms. We have 4 school rooms, and we also have 2-level school rooms. Our priority is schools with many classrooms.)
Both Leyte and Quezon are under modified general community quarantine classification.
Schools across the country shifted to alternative modes of teaching, including online classes and the use of broadcast platforms and physical modules, as in-person classes were barred to prevent further spread of COVID-19.