LIMITED FACE-TO-FACE CLASSES. Photo shows a teacher holding classes at the Lawaan Elementary School in Talisay City, Cebu  before the Covid-19 pandemic. DepEd-7 regional director Salustiano Jimenez on Monday (Sept. 20, 2021) welcomes the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte allowing the holding of limited face-to-face classes in selected areas in the country, assuring that health protocols would be observed once these start. (PNA file photo by John Rey Saavedra)

CEBU CITY – The head of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Region 7 (Central Visayas) on Monday assured that minimum health protocols will be observed once limited face to face classes begin in some pilot schools here.

On Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the holding of limited in-school classes in a maximum of 120 public and private schools in areas deemed low-risk for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Salustiano Jimenez, DepEd-7 regional director, in a radio interview said his office is waiting for the guidelines from the office of Education Secretary Leonor Briones as well as the list of schools allowed to implement the scheme.

“We consider it as a welcome development. At least, those areas considered as non-risk and safe from the coronavirus disease will be opened for this type of learning environment for the children,” Jimenez said in Cebuano, as he called for cooperation from the stakeholders.

He said his office has submitted to the DepEd central office the names of a total of 52 schools all throughout the Central Visayas region which they consider as safe for the limited face-to-face interactions between learners and their teachers.

The DepEd-7 official also said his office submitted a proposal on how the classes under the new normal will be conducted in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

The 19 school divisions in the region will ensure the infusion of health practices in the classrooms to prevent spread of Covid-19 from among the students and their mentors, he said.

The regional office of DepEd here proposed “two-day-per-week” classes where 30 students will be divided into two groups, with the first coming to the classroom on Mondays and Tuesdays and the second group on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would be “no-class, preparation” day for teachers.

However, Briones said the class size in limited face-to-face classes will be “carefully monitored” and only 12 to 15 learners will be allowed to stay in schools for up to a maximum of four hours.

“That arrangement will ensure that the entire section will not meet or see with each other in one setting. We have to limit the capacity to avoid crowding in the schools,” Jimenez said.

If a school listed in the pilot implementation or its locality will become high risk in terms of the number of active Covid-19 cases, Jimenez said DepEd will shut down the campus and stop the conduct of face-to-face classes. (PNA)