President Rodrigo Duterte, who previously asserted that no physical classes would be conducted until a Covid-19 vaccine was found, has allowed “limited” face-to-face classes in low-risk areas beginning January 2021.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones in a meeting with Duterte and other Cabinet members, proposed “strictly regulated” physical classes to be held once or twice a week.

One advantage of resuming face-to-face classes, Briones said, was solving “equity problems” on students’ access to digital learning modalities brought about by the shift to online learning.

“The limited face-to-face classes closes inequality gaps kasi kung we rely, for example, heavily on online learning, then you will have equity problems for those who may not have access to digital equipment,” she explained.

“I’m with you on this,” Duterte said.

“Let’s try to make ourselves productive even how constricted the times are. Okay ako,” he added.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque, during a virtual presser, listed the following government-set conditions for the conduct of face-to-face classes:

  • Face-to-face classes will be allowed only in low-risk areas, or those already at least under modified general community quarantine or in the transition phase between general community quarantine and the new normal.
  • Face-to-face classes will be allowed in January 2021, or the third quarter of the school year. Private schools that have started limited face-to-face classes last June will be allowed to continue.
  • Decisions to allow limited, localized face-to-face classes will be made with due coordination between the Department of Education, the concerned local government units and the local health authorities.
  • Stringent health standards will be followed.
  • There will be pilot-testing and inspection jointly with the National Task Force Against Covid-19 for observance of required health standards and protocols.

The “stringent health standards” are as follows:


  • No mask, no entry policy in school premises
  • Hand washing and hand hygiene
  • Regular disinfection in school premises
  • Checking for temperature and respiratory symptoms
  • Reduction in class size to 15 to 20 and physical arrangement of seats conforming to required distances
  • Intermittent attendance to school only, to complement distance learning
  • Controls of flow of learners and personnel in entrance and exit
  • No mass gatherings
  • Visible instructions, signages and markings
  • Preparedness and case management system in coordination with LGUs and local health authorities for contact tracing, isolation and treatment John Ezekiel J. Hirro