February 7, 2022 – The Department of Education (DepEd) has authorized schools to include other grade levels in the progressive expansion phase of face-to-face classes for public and private schools.

“With the expansion phase, we would like to give that opportunity and chance to the other grade levels so that mag-umpisa na yung setting of the consciousness among our learners and teachers na talagang time will come na talagang school-bahay ang learning at teaching process natin,” Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma said during the EduAksyon: Aksyon at Solusyon para sa Edukasyon press conference on February 4.

Asec. Garma emphasized, however, that the inclusion of more grade levels should be based on the capacity of the participating qualified schools to ensure adherence to health and safety protocols.

Initially, only Kindergarten, Grades 1 to 3, and Senior High School were allowed to participate in the pilot implementation of in-person learning.

“It’s really up to the schools, our divisions, and regions to make that right programming, the right combination of what grade levels can be included in the expanded limited face to face,” he added.

In the “Interim Guidelines on the Expansion of Limited Face-to-Face Classes” issued on Tuesday, expansion schools must pass the standards of the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT), be in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2, obtain the Local Government Unit’s concurrence and written consent of participants’ parents, and coordinate with respective barangays for the implementation.

Based on DepEd’s recent data, 304 schools in Alert Level 1 or 2 areas are qualified to commence face-to-face classes, 12 of which in Region 2, 106 in Region 3, 54 in Region 4A, and 123 in the NCR. In addition, 59 pilot public and private schools in Region 4A, 8, 10, and NCR are continuing the implementation of limited physical classes.

Asec. Garma also noted that only vaccinated teachers may join the expanded face-to-face classes, while vaccinated learners are preferred.

Meanwhile, OIC-Undersecretary for Human Resource and Development Wilfredo Cabral said that as long as there is no interaction with the learners and those teachers who teach inside the classrooms, unvaccinated teachers and personnel may be required to report onsite provided that they present negative RT/PCR or antigen test.

Citing the DO 11, s. 2020, Cabral reiterated that combinations of Skeleton Workforce, Work-From-Home, 2-Week or Weekly Rotation, and Work Shifting arrangements may be adopted for unvaccinated teachers and personnel.

Cabral also encouraged teachers who have not been vaccinated to consider taking the jab, “Ang mga guro na hindi pa bakunado ngunit eligible ay atin pong hinihikayat na magpabakuna lalo’t higi’t kung sila po ay magrereport onsite na nakasaad sa DTFC No. 57 s. 2021.”