ANOTHER seven public schools from Tagum City will start the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes today (December 6, 2021). This sums up to 16 schools in Davao Region that have allowed learners to be back to school.

Last November 15, five schools from Davao de Oro and three schools from Davao del Sur started their classes. On November 29, one private school in Davao City also implemented face-to-face classes.

Another 177 schools all over the country reopen their school today in addition to the first 118 schools that opened last November indicating progress in the monitoring of schools ready to implement face-to-face classes.

With this trend, it can be expected that more schools will open their doors to face-to-face classes as long as they meet all the indicators in the school safety assessment tool (SSAT).

This SSAT is focused on managing school operations and focusing on teaching and learning, well-being and protection, and home-school coordination. This is used to assess their readiness to conduct face-to-face classes in this time of pandemic.

For example, the school must secure support from the local government unit and letter of consent from parents or guardians that they are allowing their children to participate in the limited face-to-face classes. Or the school has established mechanisms inside the classroom like seats to be occupied must be 1-2 meters apart, presence of markers on the floor to manage traffic systems and physical distancing or safe entrance and exit procedures.

These are just some of the many indicators in that tool. All the data gathered in this SSAT will be used as baseline information in preparation for the safe reopening of classes.

Early this year, it was reported that the Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia without face-to-face classes. But schools closed again in Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Thailand due to the surge of the Covid-19 virus disrupting the education of children who had only recently returned to their classrooms.

In a UNICEF article, it is said that it is time to reopen Southeast Asia schools. School closures since last year hindered the learning process and have resulted in an unprecedented and sudden disruption of children’s education.

And not only that. The Commission on Higher Education has also announced the approval of face-to-face classes.

In Phase 1, all regions under Alert Level 2 may apply to conduct limited face-to-face classes beginning December 2021 and onwards. In Phase 2, all regions under Alert Level 3 can apply. The implementation period will be January 2022 and onwards.

In this time of pandemic, the positive consequences have slowly unfolded. We started to really give a premium to education and health.

With today’s trend where more schools intend to implement face-to-face classes, it can be seen as a good sign of progress. With the vaccination program of the government and the strict compliance with health protocols, we can treat the virus as one among the many viruses we encounter every day.

It will not anymore totally halt all our activities, but we still have to take extra precautions, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and prioritize hygiene among others.

We pray that the pilot implementation will be a success. This means no virus transmission in schools and families and the learning experiences of children become more exciting and complete. May the children feel what it is to be back to normal situations again.