Briones: 1,114 schools eyed for face-to-face classes dry run

( – December 16, 2020 – 11:19am

MANILA, Philippines — More than 1,000 schools have been recommended to the Department of Education for the dry run of face-to-face classes in January, but Secretary Leonor Briones said the number is expected to be significantly reduced after assessments.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ “The Source”, Briones said Wednesday 1,114 schools have been recommended by regional directors, upon consultation with schools superintendents, for the dry run.

But Briones said they will still assess the schools if these can comply with requirements set by the Department of Health and which have been cleared with their local government units. She added DepEd will also check whether the physical distancing can be ensured in the classrooms.

“We have to comply with the requirements of DOH safety sanitation assessment only in areas classified by [Inter-Agency Task Force] as low risk areas,” Briones said.

She also stressed that will need the written consent from parents before a learner can attend face-to-face learning, as this will be on a  voluntary basis.

The Education secretary added that some regions have already refused to take part in the dry run of face-to-face classes due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The regional director of Davao, Briones said, declared that they will not be participating, citing increase in COVID-19 infections in the localities.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced earlier this week that he approved during the Cabine meeting the proposal to conduct pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in select schools in areas deemed low COVID-19 risk for January 2021.

There are more than 25 million Filipino students enrolled in the present school year that was forced to be held in their homes under distance learning.

This year’s enrollment figures is two million short of the number of students in schools in 2019, and a significant increase in transfer from private to public schools was seen as well.

As of December 15, health authorities have recorded a total of 451,839 COVID-19 cases in the country. Recovery stands at 418,867 while death toll reached 8,812. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Christian Deiparine

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