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Mandatory in-person classes must continue, claims VP Sara.

In order to alleviate learning loss, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte stressed on Thursday that face-to-face instruction would begin in all public and private schools nationwide on November 2.

Despite requests for reconsideration owing to the dangers of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and the brief teacher summer break before the upcoming school year, Duterte stuck to his guns.

In an interview, Duterte claimed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had already authorized Department of Education (DepEd) Order 034.

“Meron po tayong na-cite na study doon sa ating presentation sa Pangulo, and this is an already published article na there are truly, verifiably learning losses sa mga bata kapag sila po ay nasa online classes or nasa distance learning… The disadvantage for students at home is more pronounced and nakakalagay pa doon. We have cited a study in our presentation to the President, and this is a paper that has already been published that shows there are actually genuinely learning losses among children when they are enrolled in online courses or distance learning. Therefore, ang ibig sabihin po noon, it is worse now for our family who practices homeschooling. Additionally, is said that at home, the disadvantage is more evident. It is worse for disadvantaged families, in other words),” she stated.

The vice president pointed out that schools still have until October 31 to make final preparations for the switch to an in-person instructional environment.

“Our Department Order indicates alternatives for August 22 to October 31. The five-day in-person classes come first. The blended modality is the second. In this case, schools may choose to conduct three days of in-person instruction followed by two days of remote or distance learning. After that, they can switch to four days of in-person instruction and one day of online learning. She said in a combination of English and Filipino, “Or they can mix up.

All schools, however, are required to switch to in-person instruction starting on November 2 and using “physical distance whenever practicable.”

She explained: “We didn’t want to add, add on the burden of additional classes in schools due to distancing. This is one of the considerations included: physical distancing shall be implemented whenever possible.

As classroom facilities vary in size, the DepEd will not be establishing a uniform size or learner capacity per room.

No sharing of meals

Given the constrained locations that could increase the likelihood of transmission, Duterte also spoke about the stringent restrictions on eating.

“This is one of the times when we take off our masks, thus eating together should be forbidden, and if space is at a premium within the classrooms, [students] should be kept apart by eating with their backs to one another. As a result, [learners] won’t be facing one another, she continued.

The education commissioner, in the meantime, urged parents or family members to get a booster shot against Covid-19 because children were found to have a higher recovery rate than them.

Along with vaccination, she pointed out that maintaining the bare minimum of health precautions would be helpful.

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