CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Some 60,000 students flocked to various public schools in Cagayan de Oro City, two years since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the government to suspend face-to-face classes.
The number is about half of the 121,000 students enrolled in public schools in the city.
Cagayan de Oro City Schools Division Superintendent Cherry Mae Limbaco said it was a “big turnout” given the pandemic situation, although the number was much less compared to pre-COVID-19 times when schools opened their doors to all enrollees.
“We started our classes, and the students are getting to know their classmates and teachers. For two years, they were just at home,” Limbaco said.
Under the present setup, only about 50% of the students were allowed to attend the first day of face-to-face classes while the other half were assigned to be in class on other days.
The Department of Education divided each class of about 30 to 40 students into two groups to take turns in attending classes in school on different days.
Under the so-called blended learning setup, when one group of students is in school, the other half would be doing modules at home.
Limbaco said: “The first set will have face-to-face classes on Monday to Wednesday and then modular learning on Thursday and Friday. The second set will have face-to-face classes on Thursday, Friday, Monday to Wednesday the following week, and modular learning on Thursday and Friday.”
She said the setup would slowly change until November when all groups would merge into single face-to-face classes for five days a week.
Officials said they were still expecting more enrollees in Cagayan de Oro this week, and the number could still increase to 150,000.
“We will still accept enrollees as long as they come. We will not stop accepting students,” Limbaco said.
At the City Central School, Cagayan de Oro’s most populous elementary school, some 8,000 students enrolled. The school, however, only has 190 teachers.
Emma Alipos, a mother of a first grader enrolled at the City Central School, said one of her concerns was how to keep her child from catching COVID-19 in school.
“She was excited to go to school. But I told her not to take her face mask off. There’s anxiety and excitement on her part,” Alipos said.
Working mother Shella Requirme said she was relieved that her daughter, also a first grader, could take face-to-face lessons, saying it was better than online classes and the modular setup.
“In school, there is a teacher that has authority over her class. At home, children tend to just play and do not take their lessons seriously,” Requirme said. – Rappler.com