June 14, 2024

As some schools in the Cordillera have reopened to limited face-to-face classes on March 7, the Department of Education Baguio City Schools Division Office targets to fully reopen all campuses under the new normal.
However, City Schools Division Education Program Supervisor Mary Jane Malihod said certain protocols must be followed to assure the safety of learners and the continuity of education while the threats of the Covid-19 pandemic still loom.
On top of the things to consider for school offering kindergarten to senior high school to be able to reopen face to face classes is its compliance to the school safety assessment tool (SSAT) as directed under DepEd Memorandum 071, s. 2021 on the preparations for the pilot face-to-face classes, expansion, and transitioning to new normal.
Malihod said a school wanting to reopen limited face-to-face classes should conduct an updated self-assessment using the SSAT and should pass all the indicators that would render it fit to in-person classes, subject to validation and approval by DepEd.
Indicators include shared responsibility of the barangay where a resolution of support to the limited face to face class should be passed by the punong barangay or barangay council where the school is located; no Covid-19 cases within 28 days in the barangay; readiness of the school’s physical structure; class program; and strict compliance to the minimum public health protocols.
“All of us are gearing into the safety of the learners so we are very contingent and stringent with the health protocols as stated in our SSAT to be followed by the learners and school personnel. As much as we want to (allow all schools to conduct face to face classes), the factor to check is its compliance to the SSAT,” Malihod said.
Two out of the 67 public elementary and secondary schools in the city have been allowed to offer limited in-person classes, namely Sto. Tomas Elementary School and Gibraltar ES, which opened to grade 1 to 6 pupils.
Twenty-six other schools – nine high schools and 17 ES – are getting ready to reopen after having been validated and are currently undergoing simulation, dry run of school processes, and orientation of learners and parents prior to face to face class opening.
Public Schools District Supervisor Jayrerose Guevarra said these steps prior to reopening are important so that learners will be guided in the new school environment.
“Schools will have to make plans how they are going to accommodate all our learners in the different classrooms. Learners were oriented where their classrooms are, how they are going to find the arrows such that they will not be meeting each other (and converging) in the hallways,” Guevarra said.
She said the number of learners to be accommodated in the face-to-face setup will depend on the number of parents who will give their consent to their children to attend in-person classes, but a maximum of 30 learners shall initially be allowed in one class. The same will be divided into two sets, such that 15 learners in two batches will take turns in using a classroom to comply with the one meter physical distancing.
Learners who were not allowed by their parents to join face to face classes will have to join blended learning modality comprised of online and modular learning.
To date, 97 percent of DepEd teaching and non-teaching staff is fully vaccinated while those who are not shall undergo the RT-PCR test.
Dr. Mary Sito, City Schools Division medical officer IV, said while vaccination among learners is not mandatory, priority will be given to those who have received either full or one dose of Covid-19 vaccine as per the SSAT.
She added of paramount importance is the practice of the minimum health protocols. All students should wear face mask and extra masks will be provided if needed, and should pass through a triage which should provide alcohol and health declaration forms as contact tracing tool.
In case a teacher or a student gets infected with the Covid-19, contact tracing will be conducted. If contacts were traced, a granular lockdown of the concerned office or classroom will be imposed and teachers will have an alternative work arrangement while students will have to do their modules and activities at home. If there are no contacts, the concerned office or classroom will be disinfected.
Identified as a health risk, recesses have been removed from the class program. Malihod said a staggered recess, one that is supervised by a teacher in the classroom, shall be observed, while hours for teaching and learning will be maximized.
Class hours will be no more than three hours for kindergarten and not more than four to five hours for grades 1 to 6 up to senior high school. – Hanna C. Lacsamana