DepEd to expand in-person classes
The Department of Education (DepEd) will push through with its plan to expand the scope of limited in-person classes in January, despite the threat of the Omicron variant.
“As far as policy level is concerned, there is no pushing back [on the timeline of expanding in-person classes]. For as long as it (Omicron variant) is not here, for as long as the danger perceived is milder,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a virtual presser on Friday.
“In the meantime, we will proceed. We cannot stop,” she added, noting that in four weeks of in-person classes, no participating students or teachers contracted COVID-19.
Briones was banking on the initial updates from the scientific community and experts that Omicron was “less vicious” than the earlier variants, such as the Delta variant, which caused a surge in COVID-19 infections in the country during the third quarter of the year.
But she conceded that their timeline would ultimately depend on the assessment of the Department of Health (DOH).
“If [the DOH] says that a particular school or area is not yet ready [for the expanded physical classes], then of course, we need to comply,” Briones said.
Currently, there are 272 public and private schools in the country that have joined the pilot run of limited in-person classes, which started on Nov. 15.
These, however, only cover classes in kindergarten, Grades 1, 2 and 3, and senior high school.
Briones said the pilot would conclude by the end of December, as they already obtained sufficient information, data and feedback from different sectors on how to improve the limited in-person classes.
During the expanded phase, the DepEd was eyeing to include more schools in the program, and implement it on all grade levels.
Up to Grade 12
In a memorandum dated Dec. 9, the DepEd has directed all public and private schools in the country to prepare for the implementation of the expanded phase of the in-person classes targeted to start by January.
Based on the memo, the expanded phase shall cover all grade levels from Kinder to Grade 12.
Briones earlier said the government aims to open in-person classes not only in rural areas but also in urban areas with high concentrations of children such as Metro Manila and Calabarzon, and other highly urbanized cities.
“We are very interested in opening [in-person] classes not only in areas with low population but also in urban areas. We’re thinking of Metro Manila and Calabarzon and large cities with large concentrations of children,” Briones said.
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