May 31, 2022
MANILA – Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced on Monday the resumption of in-person classes in public schools for the next academic school year starting on Aug. 22.
“By the next school year, we are expecting the 100-percent full implementation of face-to-face classes,” Briones said during the Laging Handa public briefing.
She clarified, however, that the setup would require the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the local governments in areas where the schools were located.
Physical classes are allowed only in areas under alert levels 1 and 2.
According to Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio, all schools are being encouraged to hold in-person classes while still observing blended learning modalities.
“There will be face-to-face classes on some days and remote learning on other days,” San Antonio said. “Once the IATF allows all schools to have physical classes, the Department of Education (DepEd) will move that forward.”
In its May 26 report, the DepEd said that based on the latest quick count from regions, 30,033 public schools or 66.56 percent of the total number nationwide were already holding in-person classes.
However, only 918 or 7.43 percent of private schools around the country had done the same, prompting Briones to express concern over the situation in a meeting with President Duterte.
“This is a challenge to us … It is ironic that at the height of the debates on face-to-face schooling, there were many crowd demands for face-to-face,” she told him.
Briones said that there was no such problem with public schools because once a region or area was placed under alert levels 1 or 2, the implementation of physical classes would be automatic.
This was not the case, however, in private schools where school officials had the final say.
The Philippines was the last country to reopen its schools in November last year for the conduct of physical classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the pilot test run, participants were limited to kindergarten up to Grade 3 students.
Participating schools were required to comply with standards under the safety assessment tool, including stringent protocols set by the IATF, Department of Health and DepEd. They also had to seek approval from local governments and the parents of students.
Meanwhile, the transition period between Briones and the next DepEd secretary, Vice President-elect Sara Duterte, has been set between June 20 and 30.
“We need to have a one-on-one [session] so she can be briefed on the different challenges in DepEd,” Briones said, adding that they were also preparing the transition report on the department.
Briones said she was hoping for a “continuity of programs” that proved effective during her term, including the Alternative Learning System and Last Mile Schools program.
She added that she was also expecting the continuation of digital learning under the next administration which “almost all nations (have adopted).”