MANILA - An education official on Monday said the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face (F2F) classes in 28 public schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) "went smoothly".
In a Laging Handa public briefing, Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the 28 public schools in Metro Manila are part of the additional 174 schools given go signal by the Office of the President to conduct pilot in-person classes nationwide.
"Napakahalaga nitong sa NCR dahil alam naman natin na iyong character ng NCR (NCR is very important because we know the character of NCR) as highly urbanized and congested areas. So (its) very important ito, and so far, it has been so smooth," Malaluan said.
"I've been monitoring, and we have not received any adverse report as of now," he added.
The selected schools that conducted limited F2F classes in the NCR include: Andres Bonifacio Elementary and Bagumbong Elementary in Caloocan City; Comembo Elementary School (Makati City); Santiago Syjuco Memorial Integrated Secondary School (Malabon City); Amado T. Reyes and Renato R. Lopez Elementary Schools (Mandaluyong City); Aurora A. Quezon Elementary and Ramon Q. Avancena High School (Manila City); St. Mary Elementary School and Tanong High School (Marikina City); Putatan Elementary School and Tunasan National High School (Muntinlupa City);
Bangkulasi Senior High School and Filemon T. Lizan Senior High School in Navotas City; Don Galo Elementary School and La Huerta Elementary School (Paranaque City); Padre Zamora Elementary School (Pasay City); Ugong National High School and Pasig Elementary School (Pasig City); Bagong Silangan Elementary School and Payatas B Elementary School (Quezon City); Pedro Cruz Elementary School (San Juan City); Ricardo P. Cruz, Sr. Elementary School and Sen. Renato "Companero" Cayetano Memorial Science & Technology High School (Taguig City); Roberta de Jesus Elementary School and Tagalag Elementary School (Valenzuela City); and Las Pinas National High School and Las Pinas City National Senior High School - Manuyo Campus (Las Pinas City).
Citing the start of Christmas break on Dec. 20, Malaluan said the 28 NCR public schools would be the last to implement the limited in-person classes.
"At pagkatapos niyan ay isa-submit ng mga participating school sa pilot iyong kanilang assessment using monitoring and evaluation tool na ibinaba natin and iyong consolidated report ay isa-submit natin sa tanggapan ng Pangulo bago magtapos ang taon (The participating schools in the pilot run will submit their assessment using [a] monitoring and assessment tool and the consolidated reports will be submitted to the Office of the President before the year ends)," he said.
Earlier, the DepEd recommended an "expanded phase" by the first quarter of 2022.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones instructed the regional directors to advise all public and private schools to prepare using the safety assessment tool from the DepEd and Department of Health (DOH).
On Nov. 15, limited in-person classes started in 100 public schools nationwide. A week after, some 18 private schools pushed through with their pilot face-to-face classes.
Malaluan said learners participating in the pilot implementation of limited F2F classes nationwide will not undergo regular testing for Covid-19.
He said learners would only need to go through a "symptom and exposure-based test which will not be a primary screening requirement for going back to school".
Malaluan noted the DOH considers symptom and exposure screening as the most effective type of testing for Covid-19.
"And that's what we are doing. It's not a primary screening tool dito po sa ating (here in our) face-to-face classes, but we would not object if there are times when the local government unit would impose in the area a screening protocol that includes testing," he said.
According to the DepEd, around 2,400 learners went back to select public schools in the NCR.
Malaluan cited an incident where some teachers in Zambales yielded a positive result in an antigen test prior to holding face-to-face classes but later tested negative for Covid-19 after an RT-PCR testing.
"That's one of the complications actually that happen with testing-based screening. Sometimes you can get false positives or false negatives," he said.
While Covid-19 vaccination is required among teaching and non-teaching personnel, Malaluan said it is not yet a requirement among learners participating in the pilot run of limited in-person classes.
The government started the inoculation of children 12 to 17 in November.
However, the vaccination of children aged five to 11 years is being planned for early next year as the Food and Drug Administration awaits the application of emergency use authorization for Covid-19 jabs suitable for such age group. (PNA)