What pilot face-to-face classes could look like if approved by Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte "may allow" a proposed pilot test for in-person classes in some 120 schools, Malacañang said on Monday.
But how will authorities potentially roll out these limited in-person classes?
If approved by Duterte and local governments, parents must consent to students' participation. Children who need extra attention or lack instructional support at home will be prioritized, said Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan.
In-person classes will only have up to 12 students in kindergarten, and up to 16 participants from grades 1 to 3. They should live within walking distance to the school and hence, would not need to take the public transport, he said.
Malaluan added that classes would be limited to 3 hours and would reinforce "what will still be predominantly distance learning."
Classes would be held in open areas. Otherwise, air-conditioning will not be used, with windows and doors kept open to ensure good ventilation, he said.
The official said health protocols like temperature tests and the use of anti-virus masks and face shields would be followed.
While students will not have lunch at school, they can eat snacks at designated areas, Malaluan said.
"Ang ating approach dito, kung papayagan ng Pangulo, ay extreme caution and maximum preventive measures upang maiwasan ang any infection and exposure," he said in a televised public briefing.
"At kung hindi man ay maipakita natin i-manage ‘yong kung magkakaroon man ng infection and exposure."
(Our approach here, if the President allows, is extreme caution and maximum preventive measures so we can avoid any infection and exposure. And if not, let us show that we can manage if there would be infection and exposure.)
The Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia that has yet to hold in-person classes for basic education, even on a limited scale to supplement distance-learning modalities, officials earlier noted.
Duterte has twice rejected a pilot test for face-to-face classes, the latest in February, because the COVID-19 vaccination drive had yet to be launched then.
Several groups, as well as officials of the World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund, are pushing for the safe reopening of schools for in-person classes, citing "grave" and "far-reaching" consequences of prolonged school closures on students' physical and mental health, skills attainment, and earning prospects.