DOTr prepares for resumption of face-to-face classes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 3) — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is studying the reactivation of public transport routes closed due to the pandemic as the country prepares for the resumption of classes, an official said Wednesday.

According to DOTr Undersecretary Timothy Batan, the agency met with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) last Friday to discuss “Oplan Alalay Balik Eskwela.”

Batan said the DOTr has coordinated with the agencies to examine the expected influx of students in the upcoming resumption of classes to ensure there would be enough public utility vehicles for them.

“Para mapaghandaan, mabigyan ng ruta, ma-reactivate ‘yung ruta na nawala nung pandemya at masigurado na may sapat na transportasyon, sapat na mga jeep, na mga bus ang ating mga estudyante kapag nagbalik sila sa kanilang mga paaralan,” the DOTr official said in a public briefing Wednesday.

[Translation: To prepare, provide a route, reactivate the routes that were cancelled during the pandemic and make sure that our students have enough transportation, enough jeeps, and buses when they return to their schools]

In a separate interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source on Friday, Education Spokesperson Michael Poa said there’s a high turnout of enrollees for the coming school year. He also reiterated the schools’ transition period before shifting to full in-person classes by November.

“As of this morning, we already have 16 million enrolled learners,” he said. “Hindi pa lahat [Not all will be] onsite because schools have a transition period with options of onsite and in-person, blended, as well as full distance. That will be from August 22 to October 31. By November 2, we will implement full in-person (classes).”

Meanwhile, DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista, along with Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officials, has ordered coordination with the Philippine Ports Authority and the Cebu Ports Authority for the 24/7 operations of DOTr Malasakit Help Desks in major ports, harbors, and other maritime transport facilities where they expect a heavy influx of passengers when classes resume.

On July 11, the DOTr said it was reworking the current setup of land transport programs to accommodate more commuters, especially students, as face-to-face classes resume.

In a statement, the agency said they would coordinate with other government agencies to ensure smooth travel before November — when face-to-face classes are expected to resume in all of the country’s schools.

“We will coordinate our actions with concerned agencies such as the DepEd, CHED, MMDA, LTO, LTFRB, PNP, AFP-NCR, DILG, IACT and others not under the DOTr,” said Bautista.

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