President Rodrigo Duterte has given the Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Health (DOH) the authority to decide on expanding the coverage of limited face-to-face (F2F) classes in the country.

“[A]ng presidente mismo ang nag-approve ng aming recommendation at ng DOH, kaming dalawang agencies, hayaan na ang dalawang departamento na mag-guide, mag-assess ng mga additional schools na isasama sa pilot, i-expand ang coverage ng pilot,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Briones said Duterte’s approval would hopefully expedite the decision-making process for in-person classes.

Previously, Duterte had a hand in all F2F-related matters.

It was only in September when he approved limited F2F classes amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He had insisted that he would not allow in-person classes as long as the threat of Covid-19 existed.

In-person classes are subject to a safety assessment by the DepEd and the approval of local government units.

Students qualified to participate in pilot classes must provide signed consent forms from their parents before being allowed to attend.

Participation of school personnel and learners in the in-person classes is voluntary.

The country started the pilot F2F classes on Nov. 15.

According to Briones, the first day of in-person classes was “very successful.” John Ezekiel J. Hirro