Duterte has 'no objection' to proposed expansion of limited face-to-face classes - Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18) — President Rodrigo Duterte has "no objection" to the Department of Education's (DepEd) recommendation to expand the implementation of limited face-to-face classes by February, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

"Walang objection si Pangulo doon, and after the presentation ni (DepEd) Sec. (Leonor) Briones, then tuloy-tuloy po nila 'yung pag-aaral nila," Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a press briefing.

[Translation: The President has no objection, and after the presentation of DepEd Sec. Leonor Briones, they will continue studying the proposal.]

Both DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH) are in charge of the assessment, Nograles added.

In a televised meeting with the President and other Cabinet officials on Monday, Briones recommended that the expansion be done by the first week of February. She said this is because they would still have to wait for the DOH's COVID-19 risk assessment for the Jan. 16 to 31 period.

"Ang aming rekomendasyon, Mr. President, progressive expansion. Hindi 'yung lahat sabay-sabay [Our recommendation is progressive expansion. Not all schools will participate at once]," she told Duterte.

Areas placed under Alert Level 3 or higher due to COVID-19 would still not be included as per existing rules, Briones said.

She added that the concurrence of local government units and parents' consent for the conduct of in-person classes will remain a requirement.

Only teachers and non-teaching personnel vaccinated against COVID-19 can participate, while vaccinated students are preferred, she also said. The rest will continue with their distance learning.

The DepEd chief described the pilot run of face-to-face classes, which ran from Nov. 15 to Dec. 22, as "highly successful."

According to Briones, participating learners had a high level of attendance at 83%. Citing surveys conducted by the department, she also said there was no confirmed COVID-19 case in all participating schools, and that students, teachers and parents "reported a high level of feeling of safety."

A total of 287 schools nationwide participated in the pilot implementation.