March 24, 2022
MANILA — The Department of Education (DepEd) is planning to “streamline” the requirements in its safety assessment tool that it uses to evaluate the applications of schools that want to implement limited face-to-face classes.
The revised guidelines—which are still subject to approval—will reduce the number of conditions for applicants, allowing more schools in areas under alert levels 1 and 2 to conduct physical classes.
As of March 22, a total of 10,206 public and private schools had been given the go signal to hold in-person classes at the basic education level, Education Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma said at a press briefing on Wednesday. Of these, 9,994 were public schools while the rest were private schools, based on DepEd data.
Of the 10,206 schools, 287 joined the pilot run of physical classes that started on Nov. 15, 2021, with around 15,000 learners from Kindergarten to Grade 3 and selected senior high school students.
Progressive expansion phase
On the other hand, a total of 14,396 public and private schools with 2.6 million learners have been nominated for the progressive expansion phase of in-person classes. Under this phase, schools are authorized to include other grade levels based on their capacity and adherence to health and safety measures.
“When we say nominated, these are the schools that have already undergone and qualified in so far as our school safety assessment tool (SSAT) is concerned,” Garma said, noting that these schools would also have to get permission from their respective local governments.
The DepEd added that while vaccination was not required for students who would take part in physical classes, “we prefer that our learners are vaccinated” in support of the national government’s pediatric inoculation program.
But teachers and other school personnel, especially those handling face-to-face classes, must be fully vaccinated.
Based on the department’s interim guidelines on the expansion of limited face-to-face classes, schools must pass the standards set by the SSAT. In addition, they should be in areas under alert levels 1 and 2 and obtain the concurrence of their respective local governments and written consent of parents or legal guardians of the learners.
On top of these, the schools must also coordinate with their respective barangays for the implementation of physical classes.