UN, UNICEF, WHO back limited in-person classes

The United Nations (UN), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday welcomed the Philippine government’s decision to resume face-to-face classes in areas with minimal COVID-19 infection risk.

MODULE HANDOUT. A teacher (seated) gives instructions to a parent during the distribution of first-quarter self-learning modules for the school year 2021-2022 at Dr. Jose P. Rizal Elementary School in Barangay Sto. Cristo, Dasmarinas City, Cavite on Tuesday. Gil Calinga
It was a decision reached 18 months after schools were shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as President Rodrigo Duterte approved a pilot test that will see up to 120 schools reopened for limited in-person classes.

An umbrella group of private schools – 20 of which will participate in the pilot test – also lauded the government’s move but cautioned that the health and safety “of our stakeholders, our students, teachers, and non-teaching personnel, is paramount.”

“We are still waiting for the list of these schools and the copy of the approved guidelines. These guidelines will allow us to test the efficacy of the preparations of both the private and public sector for the eventual return of face-to-face classes,” said Dr. Anthony Tamayo, chairman of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA).

At the same time, the pilot test “will allow us to adjust and recalibrate our procedures and policies to make sure all our students and other stakeholders are safe,” Tamayo added.

Meanwhile, the world bodies said: “UN, UNICEF and WHO applaud the government’s approval for a pilot run of limited in-person schooling in low-risk areas.

“Every child has the right to education and schools are central to children’s development, safety and well-being,” they said.

“As some schools are set to reopen on a small scale, public health, and safety measures, such as masks wearing, hand washing, physical distancing and good ventilation, remain equally important to keep every child and every teacher safe,” the UN agencies added.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier said the pilot run of in-person classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic will cover at least 100 schools in areas that will be endorsed by the Education department, the Health department, and the host local government unit.

Likewise, parents and/or guardians of learners should provide written consent before students could physically go to school.

Briones said kindergarten classes will have 12 students while Grade 1 to 3 classes will have 16 students. Technical vocational classes, meanwhile, can have as many as 20 students.

Classes from Kinder to Grade 3, Briones said, will last for three hours at maximum. Full story on

DepEd has included 18 schools in Eastern Visayas for the pilot limited face-to-face classes in the region, while the head of DepEd Region 7 assured that minimum health protocols will be observed once limited face to face classes begin in some pilot schools in Central Visayas.

In related developments:

* The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday said the number of learners enrolled in private and public schools for the school year 2020-2021 hit 28.2 million, surpassing the previous school year’s enrollment turnout.

* Allowing the pilot testing for limited face-to-face classes “is a good step towards normalization and improving the country’s education system, stressed Sen. Francis Tolentino.

* All Commission on Higher Education (CHED) offices nationwide have achieved the required vaccination level to protect their employees during the pandemic, the agency said in a statement. 

Topics: United Nations , United Nations Children’s Fund , World Health Organization , face-to-face classes
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