February 29, 2024
FACE-TO-FACE CLASSES IN BENGUET — After almost two years of not having face-to-face classes, students and teachers from Benguet National High School and Benguet Special Education Center in Wangal, La Trinidad resumed their limited in-person classes. At BeNHS, students taking the Food and Beverage Services under the Technical Vocational Livelihood track and Information Technology classes conducted their laboratory activities while only the grade 6 and special class pupils are allowed to hold in-person classes at Benguet SPED. — Ofelia Empian

A total of 266 schools in the various provinces of the Cordillera have started their limited face-to-face classes following health protocols.
Department of Education-Cordillera Director Estela Cariño said the schools have passed the school safety assessment tool (SSAT) as validated by the division and regional offices.
Cariño said the features of the face-to-face classes are different, depending on the situation of the schools.
She said students can spend at least three to five hours in school, which could be twice or thrice a week. Learners will not be allowed to spend lunch time in schools.
“The conduct of limited face-to-face classes is to give equal opportunity to our students, especially those who do not have the means or are hard up in our present setup of distance learning,” Cariño said.
Under the SSAT, schools should have the Inter-Agency Task Force health protocols in place such as presence of personal protective equipment, isolation area for students exhibiting symptoms, school nurse or medically-trained staff for the triage, and teachers should be vaccinated.
Also, the face-to-face classes should be supported by the local government unit and each student must present a parent or guardian’s waiver of consent. 
Cariño said the priority for now are the kinder to grade 3 pupils for elementary while the priority for the secondary are those who undergo skills training such as the technical-vocational track.
Fifty-seven schools in Benguet have started the limited in-person classes led by the La Trinidad Central School, which welcomed learners from kinder to grade three on Feb. 17.
Mountain Province listed 148 schools; Kalinga, two; Ifugao, 26; and Abra, 30.
Baguio City and Apayao have not yet started their in-person classes but SSAT validations are ongoing.
DepEd-Baguio City Schools Division Superintendent Federico Martin said they have recommended seven schools to conduct in-person classes, namely Sto. Tomas Elementary School, Spring Hills ES, Gibraltar ES, Tabora ES, Happy Hallow ES, Sto. Tomas National High School, Happy Hallow NHS, and Mil-an NHS. 
“These schools are mostly far from the urban areas and we have considered the low Covid cases from these areas,” Martin said.
In the Cordillera, 765 schools are targeted to implement in-person classes.
Benguet has the highest number of schools targetted with 291.
Ifugao targetted 180 schools while Mountain Province listed 149 schools for face-to-face classes.
Abra targetted 57 schools; Kalinga, 36; Tabuk City, 34; Apayao, 11; and Baguio, seven. – Ofelia C. Empian