December 15, 2020 – The Department of Education welcomes the approval of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the Cabinet of the conduct of pilot face-to-face classes in very select schools within areas with low COVID-19 risk for the whole month of January 2021. The pilot will provide important experience and learning that will inform the final recommendation that DepEd intends to make on any broader resumption of face-to-face classes.

DepEd emphasizes that the pilot study will be highly selective based on stringent conditions:

• The pilot implementation will take place only in areas categorized as low-risk (at least under Modified General Community Quarantine or MGCQ)
• There must be a commitment for shared responsibility of DepEd, the local government unit (LGU), and the parents or guardians.
• Stringent health and safety standards shall be followed at the home, during travel to and from the schools, and within school premises.

The Department would like to emphasize that participation of learners for the pilot study will be voluntary, with the requisite permit issued by the parents. Face-to-face classes will not be conducted for the full week schedule. They will be under staggered or intermittent schedule, and with reduced class size to allow proper physical distancing within the classroom.

Regional Directors have submitted to the Secretary their nominated schools for inclusion in the pilot study. The limited number of public schools that will participate in the pilot implementation will be determined within the month upon validation and evaluation of their compliance and readiness with respect to the risk classification,
documentation of acknowledgment of shared responsibility, students and classroom management plan, and health standard requirements at home, during travel, and in school premises.

Once selected, the participating schools, LGUs, learners, and parents will undergo a thorough process of orientation, mobilization, and readiness confirmation before the actual implementation.

The conduct and monitoring will be closely coordinated by the Department with the COVID-19 National Task Force (NTF).  External organizations are also invited to support, give feedback, and help generate resources to ensure the success of the program.