What we know so far about face-to-face classes in 2022

6 min read

Jan 19, 2022

Disclaimer: This article will be updated as new announcements come.

It’s been two years of online classes. We’ve all pretty much witnessed how everyone adjusted to the situation. From accessibility, academic workload, and mental health concerns, it’s an understatement to mention how much of a challenge it was for everyone involved. Now, in 2022, we’re slowly seeing a comeback to the reality of face-to-face classes.

But, with COVID-19 variants and surges coming in, how are schools faring on the protocols? 

When students called for #LigtasNaBalikEskwela, the campaign considered long-term, sustainable plans of action. Or, more specifically, a safe reopening for classes. So, it gets us wondering, what’s going to happen now? Here’s what we know so far about the growing situation.

Latest announcements on face-to-face classes

From the Department of Education (DepEd) – For Junior and Senior High School

Last September 2021, the DepEd first announced a pilot run of 120 schools for limited face-to-face classes. This pilot study covered an initial 100 public schools in areas deemed as minimal risk for COVID-19. It ran from November to December 2021.

An expansion in more schools nationwide was initially set for January 2022. However, due to the surge of cases, the DepEd was advised by the Department of Health (DOH) to put their plans on hold for the meantime, especially in Metro Manila and other high-risk places. 

As of the latest news, the DepEd was authorized to start its “progressive expansion phase” for both public and private schools this February 2022 in areas with Alert Level 2. Take note that this progressive expansion plan will be implemented slowly depending on the situation and considerations on safety with the DOH will continue.*

The DepEd has also authorized schools to include more grade levels for the limited face-to-face classes. Initially, only Kindergarten, Grades 1 to 3, and Senior High School were allowed to participate for the pilot run. But, for the expansion phase, the inclusion of other grade levels will depend on the capacity of participating qualified schools set by the DepEd and DOH.**

*News as of February 2, 2022. May be subject to change depending on the situation.

**News as of February 7, 2022. May be subject to change depending on the situation.

From the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) – For Colleges and Universities

Last November 2021, the CHED announced that higher education institutions (HEIs) would gradually be allowed to conduct limited in-person classes for all degree programs. Prior to the approval for all degree programs, the CHED only allowed certain programs that required hands-on experience, like medicine and engineering.

According to the CHED, the plan for limited face-to-face classes was described through the following phases:

  • 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.

Phase 1 of CHED’s reopening plan had already started last December 2021 in areas with lower alert levels. Meanwhile, for Phase 2 in areas under Alert Level 3, the CHED adjusted its scheduled start to January 31, 2022 as the earliest date for re-opening. However, the CHED reiterated that the decision would depend on the individual decisions of HEIs and their overall readiness amid the COVID-19 situation.

As of the moment, the CHED is monitoring the situation of colleges and universities as most of them, especially in Metro Manila, moved their re-opening to February.**

*News as of January 18, 2022. May be subject to change depending on the situation.

**News as of February 3, 2022. May be subject to change depending on the situation.

Protocols for safe reopening

Both the DepEd and CHED have released their guidelines with the DOH. And across all levels, the participating schools for limited face-to-face classes must follow these conditions:

  • Located in minimal risk areas based on DOH criteria
  • Passed the readiness assessment for school safety
  • Part of the list of participating schools from the DepEd or CHED
  • Must have written support from local government units (LGUs)
  • Must have written consent of parents and/or legal guardians of students

As classes go on, there will be strictly implemented health and safety protocols in the school premises, such as:

  • Proper hand washing and hand hygiene
  • Regular disinfection and sanitation stations
  • Health declaration forms and temperature check upon entry
  • Wearing of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (e.g. face masks, face shields, etc.) “No mask, no entry”
  • Reduction in class size up to a maximum of 15-20 students
  • Physical distancing of 1-2 meters apart for classroom seating
  • Clear visual cues, floor markers, and protective barriers 
  • Control of flow of people for entrance and exit points
  • Measures for case detection, contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation
  • No face-to-face extracurricular activities or mass gatherings

There will also be additional measures, such as personal hygiene kits, natural airflow and ventilation, contingency plans, and cyclical student shifting schedules. This is where schools can limit the amount of students present on campus at a given day. 

Meanwhile, for COVID-19 vaccination, it will be required for all teaching and non-teaching personnel. As for the students, the CHED said that only fully vaccinated students could join limited face-to-face classes. For the DepEd, the priority is vaccinated teachers and personnel, while learners are not required but preferred.

At the end of the day, it’s still within discretion whether schools or students want to participate in face-to-face classes! Eligible schools meeting the conditions can still continue flexible learning without prejudice. And the same goes for their students. As DepEd said, “No learner shall be forced to attend the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes.”

So, make sure to check out for updates, stay safe, and most importantly, wear a mask!

Art Header by Shai Libunao

 

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