Half-day rule to be implemented once face-to-face classes are allowed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 3) — Learners will stay in schools for half a day only, either in the morning or the afternoon, once limited face-to-face classes resume, an education official said Wednesday.

“The class schedules will vary between schools, but a general rule will be the face-to-face classes will be for a maximum of a half day only,” Department of Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan told a Senate hearing on the proposed face-to-face classes.

He said DepEd officials said pupils or students will be asked to take their lunch at home as canteens are off-limits to them, and even their parents.

Number of classes

Meanwhile, only one class per grade level can be conducted in a small school, a maximum of 3 classes in a medium school, and a maximum of five classes in a large school, the official said.

Class size

He said 20 learners can be accommodated in classrooms that are 7x9 meters in size while smaller rooms can hold 16 students so physical distancing can still be observed. He also said schools must ensure proper ventilation.

Lectures and other school activities can also be conducted in open spaces, Malaluan said.

Participating schools

The DepEd set at 50 the maximum number of schools per region that may participate in the pilot implementation of in-person classes. Malaluan said 1,579 schools are initially being considered to join the one-month trials pending the concurrence from local governments to hold in-person classes. He added they gave their regional directors until Sunday to seek approval from LGUs.

He also said private schools may also participate in the pilot implementation, but they should meet the eligibility criteria set by the department. DepEd has checklists to assess the readiness of schools in conducting in-person classes amid the pandemic.

On Dec. 14 last year, the President approved the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in January for DepEd schools in areas identified as low risk for COVID-19. But he recalled the order after more than a week, citing the threat of the faster-spreading coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom.

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.

Last year, Duterte banned face-to-face classes until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. But he has since allowed limited face-to-face classes in medical and allied health programs in higher education institutions, in-person training and assessments at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and other technical-vocational institutions, and physical attendance of medical interns at the Philippine General Hospital.