LIST: Gov't rules for ‘limited’ face-to-face classes in COVID-19 'low-risk' areas | Inquirer News
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LIST: Gov’t rules for ‘limited’ face-to-face classes in COVID-19 ‘low-risk’ areas

/ 02:31 PM July 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the proposal of the education sector to conduct “limited” face-to-face classes in areas deemed “low-risk” to COVID-19 infection.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones insisted that the limited classroom classes will only be allowed in schools that that would meet the requirements set by the government.

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“Hindi ito para sa lahat. Hindi ito pinipilit sa lahat ng eskwelahan. para lang ito sa mga lugar na napakababa ng health risk kagaya ng mga probinsya, ng mga isla na zero level na ang kanilang record sa mga bagong COVID-19 cases, (at) sa mga malalayong lugar na hindi naman naabot ng coronavirus,” Briones said in a televised Palace press briefing Tuesday.

[This is not for everyone. It is not forced in all schools. This is only for areas with very low health risk such as the provinces, islands with zero level of new COVID-19 cases, and in remote areas that have not been reached by the coronavirus.]

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Here are the government’s conditions on face-to-face classes as presented Tuesday by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque:

  • Face-to-face classes will be allowed only in low-risk areas, or those already at least under MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) or in the transition phase between GCQ (general community quarantine) and the New Normal
  • Face-to-face will be allowed in January 2021, or the 3rd quarter of the school year. Private schools that have started limited face to face classes last June will be allowed to continue.
  • Decisions to allow, localized face-to-face classes will be made with due coordination between DepEd, the LGUs (local government units) concerned, and the local health authorities
  • Stringent health standards will be followed
  • Pilot testing and inspection jointly with the National Task Force Against COVID-19 for the observance of required health standards and protocols.

Stringent Health standards

  • No mask, no entry policy in school premises
  • Hand washing and hand hygiene
  • Regular disinfection in school premises
  • Checking for temperature and respiratory symptoms
  • Reduction in class size to 15 to 20 maximum, and physical arrangement of seats conforming to required distances
  • Intermittent attendance to school only, to complement distance learning
  • Controls of flow of learners and personnel in entrance and exit
  • No mass gatherings
  • Visible instructions, signages, and markings
  • Preparedness and case management system in coordination with LGUs and local health for contact tracing, testing, isolation, and treatment

During a meeting with Duterte and other members of the Cabinet on Monday night, Briones formally proposed to the President the conduct of limited face-to-face classes in areas under “low-risk” modified general community quarantine.

Briones said the limited classroom classes will not be for the entire five days of the school week, and will only be for a day or two.

She also noted that limited face-to-face classes will address “inequality gaps,” adding that if the country solely relies on online learning amid the pandemic, it will have “equity problems” for those who don’t have access to digital equipment.

But the Education chief added that not all low-risk areas can resume physical classes as only those that meet requirements such as adequate facilities will be allowed.

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