IT will be up to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to decide whether to allow the holding of limited face-to-face classes in some areas in Cebu Province. This developed after the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) in Central Visayas endorsed to its national counterpart the request of the Department of Education-Central Visayas on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.
On Tuesday, the RIATF passed Resolution No. 50 which endorses the request of DepEd 7 to the national IATF for their decision.
Dr. Salustiano Jimenez, DepEd 7 director, said he favors the resumption of face-to-face classes provided only a few students would be enrolled in the public schools.
This can be achieved by implementing a two-day class week in public schools and allowing only 50 percent of their student population to attend per session. Two days will be spent for physical classes while the rest of the school week can be dedicated to blended learning, such as using modules, online and radio-based teaching.
The DepEd earlier made the request after some parents and teachers in Cebu Province petitioned before the Provincial Government to allow face-to-face classes as some students have encountered problems in the DepEd’s modular distance learning method.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, Department of Health (DOH) 7 spokesperson, meanwhile, said they respect the decision of DepEd 7 as the latter has given the guidelines on this recommendation on the minimum health standards.
“The limitation in terms of number of students per classroom, physical distancing and wearing of face masks and ensuring the availability of water and soap or hand sanitizers in the school, better still if available per classroom. This will also help the students to learn responsibility in following the health protocols and hopefully bring home with them the knowledge on the safety measures,” Loreche said in a text message to SunStar Cebu.
For her part, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the Province is ready to release funds to the public schools under her jurisdiction to ensure that all students can return to classes despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Garcia said she supports the call of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines Cebu chapter for the resumption of face-to-face classes following complaints from parents on the ineffectiveness of distance learning.
Meanwhile, the Rise for Education Alliance-Cebu (R4E-Cebu), a Cebu-based education advocacy group, said before any school can gradually reopen its doors to students, the national government’s education sector must ensure that there would be the necessary facilities to ensure that students will not be infected with Covid-19.
The R4E-Cebu submitted to DepEd 7 and the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) 7 a Visayas-wide manifesto on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 and asked a schedule for a dialogue with the two educational institutions.
Jimenez said he has told his secretary to schedule the dialogue next week while Angel Mendiola, R4E-Cebu spokesperson, said they are slated to meet with Ched 7 director Maximo Aljibe at 2 p.m on Friday, Nov. 20.
The R4E-Cebu also said the education sector deserves the “long-overdue” Covid-19 response, particularly the conduct of free mass testing, aggressive contract tracing, and proper relief assistance, to pave the way for a safe gradual reopening of schools.
The group also said a safe gradual reopening of schools should be ensured by improving school facilities and resources, such as school clinics, disinfecting areas, trained medical staff, mass testing for teachers and staff, and others.
Jimenez said the DepEd is already doing all those things the group mentioned, including the mass testing of DepEd employees. He said they have an agreement with DOH 7.
He said that during one of their regional management committee meetings, he told superintendents that teachers who want to undergo swab testing only need to list their names and submit the list to the regional office. (WBS, ANV / JKV)