Cebu Provincial Board urges DepEd to review guidelines on in-person class setting

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THE Cebu Provincial Board has called on the Department of Education to reevaluate the old guidelines pertaining to the conduct of face-to-face classes so as not to burden the students and their parents when School Year 2022-2023 opens on Aug. 22.

The provincial legislature has adopted the resolution authored by PB Member John “Ismael” Borgonia who wants a set of rules that is simple, practical and reasonable.

Borgonia said in an interview on Monday, July 18, 2022 that the DepEd must look into its old rules on social distancing, installation of plastic barriers inside classrooms, and wearing of face shields.

However, DepEd Order 034 issued by the agency’s secretary, Vice President Sara Duterte, on July 11, 2022 includes “guidelines on the prevention of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.”

The order mandates the wearing of face masks; however, students may use face shields in lieu of face masks. The installation of barriers is not mentioned in the order.

Duterte’s father, then President Rodrigo Duterte, ordered in November 2021 that the wearing of such in areas under Alert Level 3 and lower is no longer mandatory. Cebu Province, excluding the towns of Alcoy, Borbon, Oslob, Pilar, Santander and Tudela, are under the more restrictive Alert Level 2, while the six previously mentioned towns are under the less restrictive Alert Level 1 along with the highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.

Borgonia said the wearing of face masks inside classrooms suffices.

“Kanang social distancing mao nang funny paminawon nga mag-social distancing diha sa classroom lagyo kaayo sila. Pero inig gawas sa eskwelahan magtapok, mag-uban ra gihapon magsakay og tricycle, magsakay og sakyanan,” Borgonia said.

(That social distancing rule is funny. The students observe social distancing inside the classroom; they are far from one another. But when they are outside the school, they go out in groups, riding the same tricycle or vehicle.)

Letting students wear face shields and installing barriers in classrooms entail spending money.

Borgonia said after the guidelines are revisited, it would be better if the DepEd would issue an updated one.

DepEd order

DepEd Order 034, series of 2022, sets the start of classes on Aug. 22 and the school year’s end on July 7, 2023.

Schools are given time to slowly transition to five days of face-to-face classes through blended learning modality: three days of in-person classes and two days of distance learning modalities.

The order, however, states that all public and private schools must move to five days face-to-face classes starting Nov. 2.

“Face masks shall be mandatory in the re-opening of classes. A face shield may be used in lieu of a face mask for activities requiring the entire face of an individual to be visible,” read a part of the guidelines.

The other provisions include that “physical distancing shall be observed whenever possible; classroom doors and windows shall be opened for ventilation.”

“Students, teaching and non-teaching personnel are strictly prohibited from eating together while facing one another. If there is lack of space in the classroom or school premises to allow distancing during meals, eating shall be done in a manner where all individuals face in one direction and do not talk while their masks are off.”

The rest of the guidelines mention the implementation of mobile vaccinations for students who sign a written consent to be vaccinated, as well as that “the learners who exhibit symptoms of Covid-19 shall be excused from in-person classes and shall shift to distance learning,” among others.

Duterte’s order does not mention the installation of barriers between students inside classrooms.

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