THE Department of Education (DepEd) 7 is still awaiting a final list from its central office on which of the 52 public schools in Central Visayas earlier recommended to participate in the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes amid the Covid-19 pandemic would actually be allowed to do so.
DepEd 7 Director Salustiano Jimenez also clarified, in an interview with SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, that they cannot force parents to send their children to school for those allowed to do face-to-face classes.
However, he assured that DepEd will implement and observe all the health and safety protocols set by authorities to ensure the safety of both the students and teachers.
The DepEd Central Office on Monday, Sept. 20, announced that President Rodrigo Duterte already approved the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas.
“We are now awaiting the final list from the Office of the Secretary. Then once it’s available, we will finalize also our validation (process) because it does not follow that if it is included in the list (it is automatic already). If upon checking, we find that the Covid-19 cases in that area have suddenly increased, then we will not push through with the face-to-face classes there,” he told SunStar Cebu in a mix of English and Cebuano.
Hinterlands and islands
Jimenez said he believes not all of the 52 schools that had been listed will be allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes since only about 120 schools nationwide will be allowed to participate in the pilot implementation.
He said most likely, schools in hinterlands and islands considered as low risk in Covid-19 cases will be given priority considering as well the population of these schools which is also crucial for monitoring the pilot implementation.
Among those included in the list of 52 schools are those in Camotes Island, Bantayan Island, Daanbantayan, Bogo City, Toledo City and Carcar City which belong to Cebu Province Division, the biggest schools division in the region.
SunStar Cebu tried to secure a complete list of the 52 public schools, but DepEd 7 had yet to respond to the request as of this writing.
Jimenez, however, said around 28 of the 52 schools are in Cebu while the rest are in Bohol, Siquijor and Negros Oriental.
There are close to 4,000 operating public schools in Central Visayas, he said.
Jimenez said these 52 public schools secured resolutions both from their respective local government units and Parents-Teachers Associations expressing support for the pilot implementation of the limited face-to-face classes.
The readiness of the school in terms of a limited face-to-face implementation plan including the design of the classroom with appropriate entrance and exit and the availability of hand washing facilities were also considered.
The year levels to be prioritized are kindergarten to Grade 3 and senior high school’s immersion program.
“Kinder to Grade 3 is when reading is taught, and it would be very difficult if only the parents are left to guide the students. That is why we really need interaction between the teacher and also the learners,” Jimenez said.
He said the subjects to be taught during the face-to-face classes will be left to the school’s discretion, but he said it could only be learning competencies that are difficult for learners to study on their own.
Jimenez said DepEd will implement the pilot implementation once the Office of the President issues a written authority.
“This is voluntary, even if the school is considered one of the pilot limited face-to-face schools for its implementation, but still it’s not compulsory,” he said.