Sara, BBM hail return of classes

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte said Monday’s opening of classes is a victory for basic education, saying the Covid-19 pandemic should not be made as an excuse to keep children from school.

“Without a doubt, this is also a victory for all the teachers and support staff, the parents, the local government units, other government partners, private sector and civil society advocate supporters, and all education stakeholders,” Duterte said.

“This is also the day when we made one of the important decisions for our children. Our commitment to basic education must never falter. Our children deserve to have this memorable moment — the first day of school experience where they start to build their dream.”

In her speech during the National School Opening Day Program at Dinalupihan Elementary School in Dinalupihan, Bataan, Duterte noted that the resumption of in-person learning was a “big success” for all Filipino learners.

“Such bold move was bravely taken by the Department of Education despite challenges and fears brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Duterte said.

“The Philippines has been reopening (in-person classes) just like the rest of the world has reopened.”

The DepEd chief also acknowledged the lack of educational infrastructures and the inadequate number of classrooms in certain provinces.

“There is no denying that there are some schools in Mindanao and the Visayas that are still under reconstruction and rebuilding following the devastation of typhoon “Odette” in December. We acknowledged that these deeply affected schools need immediate intervention,” she added.

For his part, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. welcomed the resumption of in-person classes, believing that this would give the students a “quality education” after two years of distance learning.

“I welcome the return of our children to full face-to-face classes after two years of online learning due to the pandemic,” Marcos said in a statement.

“It has always been my belief that learning will be more effective inside classrooms where students fully interact with their teachers and fellow students,” he added.

He also expressed confidence in the leadership of Duterte in leading the nation in the reopening of schools, which have been shuttered for years.

“I do not doubt that with Vice President Inday Sara Duterte at the helm of the Department of Education, we can be sure that the more than 28.21 million students enrolled in the K-12 system will finally get the quality education that our parents want for their children,” Marcos said.

Makati goes 100% F2F classes

On Monday, Makati City hailed its 100-percent face-to-face classes as a huge success.

Nearly 80,000 students attended classes in 25 elementary and 13 high schools, leading the way in the country’s bid to hold full in-person classes in November.

“I am glad to report that the first day of face-to-face classes in Makati’s public schools was successful,” Makati Mayor Abby Binay said.

Binay said students were provided adequate protection through the strict implementation of health protocols.

To ensure the students safety, the city equipped all 38 schools with thermal scanners at entry points, accessible handwashing facilities, alcohol dispensers and foot bath mats.

Air purifiers and UV light filters had also been installed in every classroom as part of the city’s compliance with health protocols set by the Department of Health.

The lady mayor said students were excited to return to school after two years of blended learning.

She said the decision to hold full face-to-face classes will allow students and teachers alike to adapt faster to the new normal and learn to co-exist with Covid-19.

The mayor said they will be closely monitoring the conduct of classes and make the necessary adjustments in the coming days.

Each school has a morning and afternoon shift, with an average classroom size of 30 to 45 students.

Binay said that under Project Free Relevant and Excellent Education, the city has provided public school students with all of their school needs, including uniforms, leather and rubber shoes, bags, school supplies, hygiene kits and anti-dengue kits.

“Our Proud Makatizen students and their parents are very fortunate that they are the beneficiaries of Project FREE. They do not need to shell out more money just to buy new school gear and supplies,” Binay said.

Classroom shortage

Despite the shortage of classrooms in some areas, the opening of classes for public and private schools went smoothly, the Department of Education said on Monday.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said the first day of classes was “generally smooth and orderly” based on their monitoring.

“As of 9:20 a.m., based on updates of our regional directors, the resumption of in-person classes is smooth and peaceful,” Poa said.

“So far, no untoward incidents have been reported to us yet. We will continue to monitor our schools,” he added.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, 28,035,042 learners both from private and public schools have enrolled for school year 2022-2023.

“So far, so good,” said Jonardo Pablo, principal of Fort Bonifacio Elementary School in Makati City.

“It’s a bit chaotic because some children don’t know their section and adviser yet, but it’s normal during the first day of classes,” Pablo said.

MM traffic manageable

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said the flow of traffic marking the first day of face-to-face classes was better than expected.

Sharon Gentalian, chief of the agency’s Public Information Office, said the situation was ‘manageable,’ adding that the surge in vehicle volume did not happen — save for some buildup near two major schools.

Gentalian cited the traffic buildup in the vicinity of La Salle and Ateneo but it was managed in less than an hour.

The MMDA has expanded the number coding scheme to cover morning rush hours.

On Monday, the MMDA recorded 516 number coding violations.

Peaceful and orderly

The Philippine National Police said the first day of classes generally went peaceful and orderly.

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said they have already set the operational guidelines to ensure peace and order during the opening of classes and the succeeding school days.

A total of 23,653 police personnel were deployed in strategic locations around the country. The number includes 7,509 policemen tasked with ensuring that minimum public health standard is strictly observed.

Azurin, however, reminded police officers that policemen are stationed outside school premises but in case of emergency, can assist when needed inside the school.

“When we assert our active role in the community, the general public will be motivated to do their share,” he said.

“We have directed police stations to conduct mobile and foot patrols along major routes and highways leading to all learning institutions and within the immediate vicinity of school premises,” Azurin added.

Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna (seated, left)inspects classrooms at the Araullo High School at UN Avenue, Manila on Monday.

Manila turnout low

Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna noted the low turnout of students which she attributed to fears of Covid-19.

She said the number is lower than the 285,000 and 105,000 students projected in public and private schools, respectively.

Lacuna, accompanied by Vice Mayor Yul Servo, inspected the Bacood Elementary school in Sta. Mesa and Araullo High School in UN Avenue.

She said they have assigned isolation rooms manned by health frontliners for those with Covid-19 symptoms.

Lacuna called on students to get themselves vaccinated against Covid-19.

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