Students in private institutions are shifting to the public schools, a "phenomenon" spawned by job losses and hard times due to the coronavirus pandemic, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said. Limited face-to-face learning awaits in their new second homes.
Face-to-face learning is familiar to both teachers and learners and administrative costs are lower. It closes the gap between those who can and can't afford gadgets and data for online learning. Moreover, a physical setting teaches students how to deal with others, something they can't get by simply staring at a computer screen, said Briones.
There will be safeguards. Face-to-face learning will be for limited subjects and only on select days of the week. The number of students per classroom will depend on the size of the structure to observe physical distancing. Health standards will be observed, she said.
Areas for limited face-to-face learning must be considered low risk or at least under Modified General Community Quarantine or the lowest in the government's four-step quarantine classification. More importantly, local government officials must be on board. Siquijor, a tiny island in the Visayas, started limited face-to-face learning in June along with La Salle, Briones said.
Briones took exception at a meme, wherein she was criticized for pushing for face-to-face learning, at a time when face masks and physical distancing are the norm. "I said, patay kung patay pero kailangan mag-klase," she said, referencing the meme. "I would not be capable of making such statement. It is widely circulated."
After hearing Briones, presentation to the Cabinet, President Rodrigo Duterte replied: "Okay ako (I'm okay with it.)"
Of the total private school students in the last school year, 27 percent enrolled for the upcoming school year, Briones said. Citing DepEd data, she said 347,860 former private school students enrolled in public institutions. It's a "phenomenon" she said. "The private schools have been affected by the economic downturn, parents who lost their jobs."