October 06, 2021 – The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH) will work with local government units, school officials, community stakeholders, and participating teachers and learners in ensuring the safe operations of the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes.

In the joint memorandum circular (JMC) of DepEd and DOH officially signed last September 27, the national government has adopted the Shared Responsibility framework in the pilot implementation of physical classes to strengthen the school-community health and safety support system.

“Our responsibility for DepEd is to secure areas, the Local Government Units who have given their consent and are prepared to cooperate, the permission of parents, and also the readiness of our own facilities in DepEd for limited face-to-face learning. On the other hand, the Department of Health will assess the health side readiness of the school,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.

Anchored on the DepEd Framework of Shared Responsibility and UN Agencies – World Bank Framework of Reopening Schools, the said JMC features four key pillars, namely (1) Safe Operations, (2) Teaching and Learning, (3) Including the Most Marginalized, and (4) Wellbeing and Protection.

Under Safe Operations, a maximum of 120 schools (95 elementary schools, 5 senior high schools, and 20 private schools) will be chosen for the pilot. These schools must be located at minimal risk areas and passed the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT). LGUs must also express their support with a resolution or letter allowing the conduct of the pilot run in the community.

Participating learners must submit signed consent from their parents, and preferably near the school and without existing comorbidities. Teachers and school staff who will directly interact with learners in the pilot run, meanwhile, must be fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, for the Teaching and Learning standards, blended learning will be applied alternately, one week face-to-face and another week distance learning. Class sizes must only be 12 learners for Kinder; 16 for Grades 1 to 3; 20 for Senior High School (SHS); and 12 SHS in TVL workshops/Science laboratories, with a maximum of 4.5 hours stay in school, except for Kindergarten, with a maximum of three hours.

In addition, to guarantee the wellbeing and protection of learners and personnel, the JMC also requires schools to have physical distancing-compliant classroom layout and structure, safe school traffic management, protective measures and safety procedures, psychological support, and contingency plan, among others.

To read the full JMC, visit https://www.deped.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/DEPED-DOH-JMC-No.-01-s.-2021.pdf.