Face-to-face classes have been tested in nearly 300 schools in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Next year, the Department of Education (DepEd) will recommend to President Duterte “progressive expansion,” in which other schools and grade levels will also be included in physical classes.
“Halimbawa, by first week ng January, mayroong hundreds of schools ang nag-qualify na, they can start [face-to-face classes] already. And then by the second week, mayroon another 100,” said DepEd Planning Service Director Roger Masapol.
The plan was approved by Marivic Bulan, who has a Grade 1 student child.
Bulan’s son attended school for the first time on December 6, when in-person classes were allowed at Pasig Elementary School.
“Maganda po ang resulta kasi marami siyang nakasalamuha na mga kaklase niya saka marami siyang nakausap na mga teacher,” said Bulan.
“Malaki po ang kaibahan kasi ‘pag dito sa bahay, hindi ko talaga natutukan kasi may maliit din akong anak at saka may trabaho rin ako,” she added.
In the expansion phase, some of the tests seen during the pilot face-to-face classes are expected to be resolved, such as difficulty in reading lessons because some schools use plastic barriers and face shields.
DepEd prepares for progressive expansion of face-to-face classes in January 2022
“Atin nang dini-discourage na huwag nang gamitin iyong face shield kasi nai-impede nga iyong vision ng mga bata. At iyong plastic barriers, hindi lang sa nakaka-impede siya ng air flow, baka maging repository pa siya ng virus,” said Masapol.
The department also plans to implement an adjustment to class hours, based on comments from students and teachers that 3 to 4 hours of in-person classes are lacking to address their learning concerns.
“It was very challenging, but it’s not for us to complain because our country has survived so many challenges, so many crisis,” said Education Secretary Leonor Briones.
“Education must continue. Education must never stop,” she said.
But Briones stressed that the safety of students and school personnel is still a priority.
DepEd urged parents, students, teachers, and other study partners to be careful and always adhere to health protocols.