THE Department of Education (DepEd) has granted five other schools in Davao City to start with the limited face-to-face (F2F) classes, but the City Government has requested to postpone it next year.

Dr. Marilum Deduyo, DepEd-Davao Assistant Schools Division superintendent, said in a press conference Monday, November 29, that the five recommended public schools in the city were already endorsed by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to conduct with the limited F2F classes.

Deduyo said the selected schools are situated in far-flung areas wherein there is minimal or no transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

But she said the permit and requirements for the schools to operate is still being complied.

The five identified public schools for the limited F2F in the city are Dalagdag National High School with Senior High in Barangay Dalagdag, G. Tajo National High School with Senior High in Barangay Lampianao, Saloy National High School with Senior High in Barangay Saloy, Mabuhay Elementary School now Victor Bernal Integrated School with Kindergarten in Barangay Mabuhay, and Gumitan Elementary School with Kindergarten in Barangay Gumitan.

"Our target is to start by January," Deduyo said.

Once approved, the DepEd official said there will be a total of six schools that will be piloting the physical class modality in the city.

On Monday, November 29, Faith International Academy resumed its F2F classes after nearly two years since it was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Faith International is the first school in the city and the first private school in the region to kick off the physical classroom modality.

Duterte-Carpio said in a radio interview on the same day that the five schools were already inspected and approved from the city-level up to the regional level.

But the mayor said the city revealed that she requested that the limited F2F classes in the city be postponed by January next year.

“I requested the Assistant Regional Director of DepEd kung pwede i-postpone if we can postpone) the classes until next January ang (the) face to face classes kay gamay na lang man ang nabilin nga adlaw karong tuiga (because we only have few days left this year),” Duterte-Carpio said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.

DepEd spokesperson Jenielito Atillo said while the schools had passed the initial assessment, the opening of the five public schools in the city has yet to undergo another approval from the Department of Health.

Atillo also disclosed the names of the seven schools in Tagum City, Davao del Norte that will also start their classes in December 6. These are New Balanban Elementary School, Nueva Fuerza Elementary School, San Agustin Elementary School, Babanganan Primary School, Cabugan Elementary School, Libuganon Integrated School, and Pandacan Integrated School.

The seven schools in Tagum were initially delisted after the city experienced a surge of cases.

"These seven schools are not new additional schools. These schools are actually part of the official list but were not given the green light to proceed because there was an increase of Covid-19 cases," Atillo said.

Faith International and seven Tagum schools are in addition to the eight schools in Davao Region that started their limited F2F classes -- three in Davao del Sur, and five in Davao de Oro.

In Davao del Sur, these are Clib Public School in Hagonoy and the Nodilla Elementary School and Tacub Elementary School in Kiblawan.

Schools in Davao de Oro that qualified for the limited F2F include Bares Elementary School (Pagsabangan Extension) in New Bataan, Parasan Integrated School in Pantukan, and Lower Panansalan Elementary School (Jacinto Extension), Maugat Elementary School, and Digaynon Integrated School in Compostela.

Faith Int’l starts F2F classes

Meanwhile, the DepEd spokesperson said Faith International passed the agency's guidelines for the F2F classes, which he said must be emanated by other private schools in the region wanting to also resume their physical classes.

Deduyo also said the private school was given the permit to conduct the F2F since it was also the first to submit the requirements ordered by the central office.

"They were able to comply more than satisfactory [with] the required indicators that the school should comply," she said.

Alastair Walker, Faith International school head, said they had pushed for the conduct of F2F as this would be beneficial in their studies, as compared to the online distance learning.

"We could tell that if we would get our students back to the classroom, the education would be better for them and their mental health," Walker said.

Brian Schwartz, school business administrator, admitted they had undergone challenges in applying for permits for the conduct of F2F classes.

"Meeting all the requirements, daghan kaayo. So many requirements. Just the changing of the daily landscape, that has been an issue," Schwartz said.

"Also, this program is not free. It has a high cost, which is high. But we thought that the cost may be worth it, how much more than not allowing our students back to campus," he added.

Mercy Hong, a parent of a grade 2 student, said she is happy that the F2F classes were allowed once again.

Admittedly, she said that she is still worried for her child's safety considering that Covid-19 is still around. But she said there is still a need for students to physically socialize with others to help in improving their learning processing skills.

"There is still a need for the face-to-face because of their social skills, and for their mental health, and for their age they have a short attention span. There is a need for them to interact with other kids," Hong said.