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MANILA, Philippines – In her first order as the education secretary, Vice President Sara Duterte directed all public and private schools in the country to transition to five days of face-to-face classes beginning November 2.
This was contained in Department of Education (DepEd) Order 34, s. 2022, containing the calendar of activities for school year 2022 to 2023, which was made public on Tuesday, July 12.
“Starting November 2, 2022, all public and private schools shall have transitioned to five days in-person classes. After the said date, no school shall be allowed to implement purely distance learning or blended learning except for those that are implementing Alternative Modes,” the DepEd order read.
Duterte issued the order as the country dealt with another surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant. Despite the increase in cases, the entire Philippines remained at low risk for the virus.
The DepEd order also stated that school year 2022-2023 will begin on Monday, August 22, and end on July 7, 2023.
The DepEd said that it will give schools ample time to slowly transition into in-person classes by implementing any of the following options:
- Five days of face-to-face classes
- Blended learning
- Three days of in-person classes and 2 days of distance learning, or 4 days of in-person classes and 1 day of distance learning
- Full distance learning
The DepEd said that these options will only be implemented by schools until October 31, 2022.
Will face-to-face classes be mandatory for all students? Or can students opt out if they feel unsafe attending in-person classes?
At a press briefing on Tuesday, Education Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said that the order is “mandatory,” which means all “enrolled students abide.”
The DepEd order is applicable “regardless of the COVID-19 alert level imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or the Department of Health in areas where schools are located.” But in case of a surge in cases, Densing said that the pandemic task force could recommend suspension of classes to DepEd.
Over two years into the pandemic, the Philippines is among the few countries in the world where schools have not fully opened for in-person classes. As of April 22, there were about 25,786 schools holding in-person classes.
There are an estimated 60,000 public and private schools in the country.
The DepEd earlier said that 80% of the 48,000 public schools and 12,000 private schools in the country have already met their requirements for face-to-face classes. – Rappler.com