BACK TO THE CLASSROOM. Learners of the Laserna Integrated School in Nabas, Aklan during their limited face-to-face class on Dec. 3, 2021. A total of 80 schools in Western Visayas stand ready to implement the expanded limited face-to-face classes once the region is de-escalated to Alert Level 1 or 2, the head of the regional education office, Ramir Uytico, said on Friday (Dec. 4, 2022). (Photo courtesy of Laserna Integrated School FB page)

ILOILO CITY – A total of 80 schools in Western Visayas are ready to implement the expanded limited face-to-face (F2F) classes once the region is de-escalated to Alert Level 1 or 2.

“We have submitted to the central office (the names of) 80 schools, which are ready for the expansion. But considering the classification on alert level of the whole region, that is Alert Level 3, they are still on standby,” Department of Education (DepEd) 6 (Western Visayas) Director Ramir Uytico said during a virtual press conference on Friday.

Sixty of these are from various school division offices in Negros Occidental, nine from Antique, four from Aklan, five from Iloilo province, and one each from Guimaras and Capiz.

During the regional press conference, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said they have identified about 6,000 schools nationwide for the face-to-face classes but most of them are in areas that are under Alert Level 3.

DepEd data showed that only 304 schools are ready to resume the limited face-to-face classes, being under Alert Level 2. They are in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and the National Capital Region.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma said regional directors no longer have to seek a go-signal from the central office to resume the expanded face-to-face activities.

He said so long as they qualify under the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT) and their area classification has been de-escalated to Alert Level 1 or 2, they could return to the classrooms.

With more schools gearing up for the opening of face-to-face classes, Briones assured that there is no shortage of teachers.

“(The) majority of our teachers are already vaccinated. We will not have (a) shortage of vaccinated personnel who will handle our face-to-face (classes),” she said.

Briones also noted that based on their survey, the majority of parents want teachers handling F2F classes to be vaccinated.

Data from DepEd-6 showed that 90.81 percent or 76,755 of its 84, 518 personnel are vaccinated and only 9.19 percent have not received their coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) jabs. (PNA)