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Duterte OKs pilot testing of face-to-face classes in January



President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night approved the proposal of the Department of Education (DepEd) to hold a pilot study of face-to-face classes in areas deemed as “low risk” for COVID-19 in January 2021.

During the Cabinet meeting in Malacañang, Duterte said the pilot study or dry run shall be done “under strict health and safety measures, and where there is commitment for shared responsibility among DepEd, local government units and parents,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

“We need to emphasize that face-to-face classes in schools where this may be allowed will not be compulsory, but rather voluntary on the part of the learner or parents,” Roque said in a statement sent to reporters.

“Having said this, a parent’s permit needs to be submitted for the student to participate in face-to-face classes,” he added.

The Palace official assured the public that DepEd will coordinate with the COVID-19 National Task Force for the monitoring of the pilot implementation.

Roque also said DepEd will iron out the details of the pilot test, including its target date.

As of posting, it was not clear yet who will determine low-risk areas and schools which are safe for in-person classes, but Education Secretary Leonor Briones has previously said her office will work with the Department of Health on the matter.

This school year, schools and universities nationwide implemented blended learning — in which lessons were delivered through modules or the internet — after the President ordered to halt face-to-face classes due to the ongoing pandemic.

Duterte has earlier said he will not allow in-person classes until COVID-19 vaccines become available.