Duterte OKs pilot testing of face-to-face classes in low-risk areas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet gave the green light to the pilot testing of face-to-face classes in areas that will be considered at low risk for COVID-19 in January 2021.

The dry run proposed by the Department of Education was approved during Monday's Cabinet meeting, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

He said the trial face-to-face classes should be conducted in January next year, with the exact date to be determined by DepEd. Only select schools in low-risk areas can participate. DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said they have a list of schools that may be allowed to join the pilot run, but he stressed that it is tentative as the schools have to pass the evaluation on their compliance with criteria and readiness.

DepEd will also coordinate with the National Task Force against COVID-19 to ensure the implementation of strict health and safety measures.

"We need to emphasize that face-to-face classes in schools where this may be allowed will not be compulsory, but rather voluntary on the part of the learner/parents," Roque said. "A parent's permit needs to be submitted for the student to participate in face-to-face classes."

Basic education classes resumed in October under blended learning which involves a mix of internet-based sessions, radio and TV broadcasts, and printed self-learning modules. Classes in other levels are also mostly held online.

Duterte earlier banned face-to-face classes in the whole country until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. The government expects vaccines to be approved for use and arrive in the country by the first quarter on 2021.