FACE TO FACE. One of the classrooms at Rizal Central School in Tacloban City in this March 8 photo. Over 7,000 learners in the city returned to school on Tuesday (March 8, 2022) for face-to-face classes. (PNA photo by Sarwell Meniano)

TACLOBAN CITY – Over 7,000 students returned to schools in this city on Tuesday for face-to-face classes since the pandemic broke out two years ago.

Department of Education Tacloban schools division information officer Nilo Eder said the first day of limited in-person learning has been successful as the weather in the city improves.

“We are very happy to see children coming back to campuses today. Teachers, parents, and learners have been excited for this return of in person classes after nearly two years of modular learning due to movement restrictions,” Eder told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview.

Limited face-to-face learning was supposed to kick off on Monday, but it was postponed when Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez issued an executive order suspending work and classes in all levels in the city due to heavy rains dumped by a low-pressure area.

For high school, the DepEd field office decided to allow physical classes for fully vaccinated learners enrolled in Grades 10, 11, and 12.

For elementary, the class is initially open to Grade 6 pupils since those belonging to lower grade levels have not yet received complete doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

Grade 6 learner Khen Angelo Sumayod, 12 said he is happy to spend time with his classmates after two years of home-based study.

He is enrolled at Rizal Central School, one of the biggest elementary schools in the city.

“I have not learned a lot from modular learning. I have been looking forward to wear my uniform and interact with my teacher and classmates,” said Sumayod, an aspiring chef.

He is just one of the 7,315 learners who reported to school on Monday. Their parents have signified their interest to send their children to campuses.

“This does not mean that we will not allow those unvaccinated to attend face-to-face classes. In the first two weeks, we will just limit the number of participants. More children will join classes on March 21 as more schools will implement in person learning,” Eder said.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said on March 2 learners who want to participate in face-to-face classes are not required to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The number of participating students in the city represents about 12 percent of the over 56,000 learners enrolled in the current academic year.

Even with the limited face-to-face learning, teachers will still distribute printed modules since learners will just spend four hours daily inside their classrooms.

Students will not be required to attend classes daily to ensure the observance of physical distancing. (PNA)