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F2F classes will continue despite the Omicron XBB and XBC danger.

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The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) omicron XBB and XBC subvariants have raised concerns. Still, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced on Wednesday that mandatory face-to-face lessons would go as planned beginning November 2.

DepEd official Michael Poa said in a radio interview that Department Order (DO) 44 will continue to be in place, notwithstanding the discovery of the XBB and XBC omicron subvariants nationwide.

“As of right now, there are no modifications to our amendatory DO that we published last Monday,” he declared.

Except for those affected by disasters or calamities or those for which the regional offices have granted an exemption, all public schools are obligated by DO 44 to hold five days of in-person classes.

On the other hand, private schools will continue to benefit from their flexible learning options because the DepEd understands their investment in the infrastructure for in-person learning and the difficulties in switching to only face-to-face lectures.

According to Poa, face-to-face instruction fills in knowledge gaps and meets the demands of students’ mental health, particularly their desire for physical contact with peers and teachers.

He reassured parents that measures are in place to protect their kids from any Covid-19-related threats.

“Ang Covid, I’m sorry, but your stance is not one of a binabalewala. Because of this, we have national health guidelines. It is our position not to disregard the threats posed by Covid. Binase kasi natin ito sa mga studies na talagang mas makakabuti, beneficial ang in-person lessons pagdating po sa pag-aaral ng ating mga learners. We made our health recommendations public for this reason. We based the required in-person classes on the studies, which showed that in-person classes are more favorable for our learners’ education,” he stated.

“We will issue the guidelines to our regional directors for the parameters on the exemption, so that the granting of exemption shall not be arbitrary,” Poa continued. “Maglalabas tayo ng guidelines sa regional directors kung ano ‘yung parameters ng pagbibigay nila ng exemption para hindi naman po arbitrary ‘yung pagbibigay ng exemption.”

The DepEd reaffirmed that physical classes continue to benefit students’ well-being.

Although we gave our private schools options or permitted them to continue with the options listed in the DO 34, we always advised them to do their research and be aware of the benefits of in-person classes.

The DepEd was congratulated on Tuesday by the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) for continuing to offer in-person, blended, and online learning alternatives to all private schools in the country.

The DepEd stated that it is currently researching how to institutionalize blended learning throughout the nation to address the shortage of classrooms and other enduring issues frequently encountered during disasters.

A supporter of health reform asserted that the law governing the voluntary use of face masks should be reviewed in light of the threat posed by Omicron subvariants.

“Kasi’yung youngsters because silang nabakunahan huli, mababa ang ating update, and sila nagfe-face-to-face lessons. But Executive Order No. 3 raises the most concern. Since it is optional, we should probably put it on hold for at least the next two weeks while we observe because if we don’t reevaluate it, it will affect all of us. After all, it is airborne. (Kids are the last to receive vaccinations and are still attending face-to-face classes. The issue is Executive Order No. 3; if wearing a face mask is optional, perhaps we should put it on hold for at least the next two weeks while we observe. If we don’t reevaluate, that will be a problem for all of us since it is airborne, Dr. Tony Leachon stated.

As previously stated by Poa, students are still required to wear face masks inside classrooms and other enclosed areas, but they are permitted to remove them in public areas.

To lower hazards for students, teachers, and non-teaching staff, DO 34 mandates health precautions, including the proper use of face masks, handwashing, sanitation, ventilation, and contact tracing.

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