THE Department of Education (DepEd) announced that as of October 25, 90 schools have been identified for inclusion in the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes in the country.

DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said that aside from the 90 schools, 20 private schools are up for assessment, while private international schools are also to be assessed separately.

Of the 90, data from DepEd showed that 30 schools were assessed on October 4, 39 on October 12, and 21 on October 17.

The schools are located in the following regions:

* Ilocos - 10

* Central Luzon - 10

* Calabarzon - 5

* Bicol - 3

* Western Visayas - 3

* Central Visayas - 8

* Eastern Visayas - 10

* Zamboanga Peninsula - 8

* Northern Mindanao - 6

* Davao Region - 8

* Soccsksargen - 5

* Caraga - 14

The DepEd said a total of 638 schools were selected from the initial list endorsed by the regions and evaluated by the Department of Health (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau, but only 329 passed the granular risk assessment conducted the DOH.

The 329 eligible schools, however, were reduced to 90 as some local government units (LGUs) have recalled concurrence due to the changing Covid-19 risk level, while some did not pass the School Safety Assessment Tool.

Briones stressed that there are conditions set for the conduct of the pilot face-to-face classes, first among which is the agreement of LGUs on the pilot implementation conduct in their areas.

She said DepEd facilities should also be appropriate and ready for the pilot, and that a written consent from parents signifying their agreement to allow their children to participate in the pilot is required.

She said the pilot face-to-face will be different from the regular classes conducted five days a week, as it will only be done on specified hours in specified places.

There will also be an orientation with the parents of the learners, LGU representatives, and school personnel prior to the pilot.

Briones emphasized that the pilot implementation is not mandatory and parents have the right to back out if they want to.

The Education secretary stressed though that all necessary precautions related to the pilot have been undertaken and that the DepEd has reviewed and assessed their facilities and ensured that there is enough space, there is water, medicine, and personal protective equipment, among others.

She also said that DEpEd and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 have agreed to accelerate the vaccination of teachers and school personnel in all schools nationwide. (Laureen Mondoñedo-Ynot/PR)