59 public schools likely to participate in pilot run of F-to-F classes–DepEd

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AN initial list of 59 public schools that have hurdled the granular risk assessment standard will likely participate in the pilot run of the face-to-face (F-to-F) classes, the Department of Education (DepEd) said.

The list was drawn from the 638 nominated schools submitted by DepEd to the Department of Health (DOH) earlier.

“Rolling assessment to be transmitted to DepEd by DOH every Monday, to increase the number of schools to complete the 120,” said DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan adding that regional directors may submit justification for inclusion of specific schools for further evaluation by DOH.

These identified schools were carefully tagged by the DOH Epidemiology Bureau as minimal or low risk, as of October 2, based on the Alert Levels by provinces/highly urbanized cities (HUC)/ independent component cities (ICC) and risk category by municipality and city.

Malaluan said that the target start of the F-to-F classes would be on November 15, or start of Academic Quarter 2.

In December there would be close monitoring of the progress, Christmas break, and assessment of initial run (November 15-December 22), reopening of classes in January after Christmas break. The end of pilot study is on January 31.

In February, Malaluan said that there would be an evaluation of the pilot study, identification of schools for expansion, preparation of expansion schools, site inspection, final list of expansion, approval of expansion implementation plan, dry-run, presentation to the President of the pilot report and proposed expansion.

If the proposed expansion would push through, the start would be on March 7.

The DepEd reiterated that the target F-to-F classes will help:

Address difficulty in monitoring and assessing learning progress remotely

Mitigate inequalities and unevenness in access to technology, household resources, and student skills for self-learning

Allow resumption of activities that cannot be done at home

Address needs of learners with no adult in the family qualified to perform the role of learning facilitator

Ease negative mental health and child development impact of the lack of F-to-F interaction and socialization among children

With resumption of F-to-F classes, schools can help in the enforcement of health standards in school setting

Shared responsibility

DepEd and DOH vowed to work with local government units (LGUs), school officials, community stakeholders, and participating teachers and learners in ensuring the safe operations of the pilot implementation of F-to-F classes.

In the joint memorandum circular (JMC) of DepEd and DOH officially signed last September 27, the national government has adopted the Shared Responsibility framework in the pilot implementation of physical classes to strengthen the school-community health and safety support system.

“Our responsibility for DepEd is to secure areas, the local government units who have given their consent and are prepared to cooperate, the permission of parents, and also the readiness of our own facilities in DepEd for limited face-to-face learning. On the other hand, the Department of Health will assess the health side readiness of the school,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.

Anchored on the DepEd Framework of Shared Responsibility and UN Agencies-World Bank Framework of Reopening Schools, the said JMC features four key pillars, namely, (1) Safe Operations, (2) Teaching and Learning, (3) Including the Most Marginalized, and (4) Well-being and Protection.

Under Safe Operations, a maximum of 120 schools, 95 elementary schools, 5 senior high schools, and 20 private schools, will be chosen for the pilot. These schools must be located at minimal risk areas and passed the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT). LGUs must also express their support with a resolution or letter allowing the conduct of the pilot run in the community.

Participating learners must submit signed consent from their parents, and preferably near the school and without existing comorbidities. Teachers and school staff who will directly interact with learners in the pilot run, meanwhile, must be fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, for the teaching and learning standards, blended learning will be applied alternately, one week F-to-F and another week for distance learning. Class sizes must only be 12 learners for Kinder; 16 for Grades 1 to 3; 20 for Senior High School (SHS); and 12 SHS in TVL workshops/Science laboratories, with a maximum of 4.5 hours stay in school, except for Kindergarten, with a maximum of three hours.

In addition, to guarantee the well-being and protection of learners and personnel, the JMC also requires schools to have physical distancing-compliant classroom layout and structure, safe school traffic management, protective measures and safety procedures, psychological support, and contingency plan, among others.

“Guided by the DepEd-DOH Joint Memorandum Circular on the Pilot Implementation of face-to-face Classes, we are in the process of providing additional layers of protection for these schools in preparation for the pilot phase. We are set to conduct extensive coordination with concerned local government units and multi-level and multi-sectoral orientation among involved stakeholders. We will also administer site inspection and simulation to ensure the availability of school implementation and contingency plan, hygiene and sanitation materials, hand washing facilities, and standard classrooms, among others,” DepEd said.

Image courtesy of Patrick Roque

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