DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 06 January) – The Department of Education (DepEd)-Davao Region may be forced to suspend the ongoing pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes if the region reverts to alert level 3 status due to the expected surge in COVID-19 cases.
Jenielito Atillo, DepEd–Davao spokesperson, said during an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5), that five public schools in Davao de Oro, three public schools in Davao del Sur, and one private school in Davao City have been allowed to open limited face-to-face classes since November 2021.
These schools are allowed to conduct limited face-to-face for grades 1 to 3 and senior high school, he said.
The region is under alert level 2 until January 15.
Atillo said the pilot testing is working out well.
He added the agency recommended five additional schools in Davao City to be allowed to open as part of the expansion phase of the limited face-to-face classes.
But he said face-to-face cases may be shelved if the region will experience another wave of COVID-19 infections that would warrant elevating its alert status to level 3 from level 2.
He said the agency is awaiting directives from Education Secretary Leonor Briones for the conduct of in-campus classes, adding that the face-to-face mode is allowed for as long as the region remains under alert level 2.
He said the DepED’s “primordial consideration is the safety of the students, teachers, and school community.”
Local health authorities are anticipating a surge in COVID-19 cases by either the third or fourth week of this month as a result of the social gatherings during the holiday season.
“We cannot say that it will be stopped totally. If at all, it will just be a suspension, which means we will resume face-to-face once the alert level status allows face-to-face… Our intent really is to have these full-blown classes but it depends on the situation because there are roadblocks along the way. We are aware of that because of the ever-changing classifications,” he said.
He said schools follow protocols against COVID-19.
He said many students are eager to go back to school after two years of online learning.
He said DepED wants to bring the situation in schools back to normal.
“It’s our penultimate desire and purpose and intent to have full-blown (face-to-face) classes back, both public and private,” he said.
The pilot implementation is set to be completed this month, he said.
“If there is no problem, then we can proceed but, of course, it’s the President who will decide based on the current situation where Omicron is already part of the landscape with respect to drafting of the decision,” he said.
As of January 5, the Department of Health-Davao reported 32 new cases in the region, bringing the total cases to 104,633, with 226 active, 100,531 recoveries, and 3,876 deaths. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)