The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday said the detection of the Omicron XBB and XBC variants would not halt the implementation of mandatory face-to-face classes in public schools starting Nov. 2.

In a radio interview, DepEd spokesman Michael Poa said schools have safety measures in place against Covid-19 and its variants.

“Ang Covid naman po, talagang ang position natin is hindi natin siya binabalewala. That’s why we have the health guidelines na nilabas po natin,” he said.

The DepEd earlier this week released a department order that said private schools may continue holding classes using blended learning, but public schools should have transitioned to five days of face-to-face classes per week starting Nov. 2.

According to the order, private schools may opt to conduct three days of in-person classes and two days of distance learning (modular, online, or television/radio-based instruction) and then later shift to four days of in-person classes and one day of distance learning.

The Philippines on Tuesday reported 81 infections of the Covid-19 Omicron XBB subvariant and 193 cases of the XBC variant.

The health department earlier said that the XBB sublineage “shows higher immune evasion ability than BA.5.”

It is also under the Omicron subvariants being monitored by the World Health Organization, along with BA.5, BA.2.75, BJ.1, BA.4.6, and BA.2.3.20. John Ezekiel J. Hirro