CABINET Secretary Karlo Nograles yesterday said the government is again considering implementing a “limited” and “smaller” pilot testing of face-to-face classes involving public and private schools.
This developed as President Duterte said work in government, including the completion of infrastructure projects like new school buildings, are continuing despite lockdown restrictions and efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
Nograles said that during the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday night, Duterte reiterated that he wants a “more rigorous, a more widespread rollout of the vaccination program” implemented first before he considers completely opening the economy, easing the quarantine restrictions and allowing the conduct of face-to-face classes.
“Doon sa limited face-to-face classes, ang napagkasunduan kagabi is that, iyong limited face-to-face classes are only pilot, will only be pilot classes to be selected very carefully by the Department of Education doon sa mga areas na mababa ang transmission rate ng COVID, na mababa ang kaso ng COVID. So these are just pilot, limited face to face classes (On the limited face-to-face classes, it was agreed on that the limited face-to-face classes are only pilot, will only be by pilot classes to be selected very carefully by the Department of Education in areas with low transmission rate of COVID, with low cases of COVID. So these are just pilot, limited face to face classes),” he said.
The scheduled pilot testing of more than 1,000 public schools last January was postponed following the spread of new variants of COVID-19.
Nograle said some private schools have reached out to DepEd and asked to be included in the pilot testing for the limited face-to-face classes.
“But again, the President still wants to see a more massive vaccination rollout for him to gain enough of that, kumbaga iyong kumpiyansa, tumaas iyong kumpiyansa niya na pwede mang mag-open ng limited face-to-face classes ang DepEd (But again, the President still wants to see a more massive vaccination rollout for him to gain enough of that, in other words confidence, increase in confidence to open the limited face-to-face classes by DepEd),” he added.
The President inaugurated yesterday several newly-completed school buildings in Sta. Ana, Bulacan and Valenzuela City which he said is part of efforts to prepare for the return to school of students when it is already allowed.
“Our investment in (educational) infrastructure affirms our continuing commitment to promote the right of the people to quality and accessible education at all levels. On this note, I reiterate the need to complete government (infrastructure) projects on time, and if possible…I am directing all concerned agencies to ensure the least inconvenience to the public during construction, while ensuring strict adherence to the highest standards of honesty and integrity and prevent corruption,” said Duterte, who was accompanied by partner Honeylet Avancena in both events.
The President reiterated that he is still reluctant to allow face-to-face classes despite the start of the vaccination program in the country.
Individuals below the age of 18 are not eligible for the vaccine.
“You have my assurance that the government will be exerting all efforts to roll out the nationwide COVID-19 Vaccination Program to enable us to reopen our schools and slowly resume our face-to-face learning. To our students, I hope that despite the challenges ahead, you will persevere and strive harder to excel and reach your full potential,” Duterte said.
The Department of Education is implementing a blended learning scheme that uses online classes, learning modules as well as radio and television to teach the students who are, most of them, still not allowed to go out of their homes.