Over 2,000 public elementary and senior high school students in Metro Manila are set to return to limited in-person classes today (Monday), an official from the Department of Education said Sunday, with police ordered to increase their visibility in the pilot areas.
The students – in Kindergarten to Grade 3 and SHS – come from the 28 schools across the capital region selected to join the pilot phase of in-person classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're one of the last areas in our country to hold face-to-face classes because we just shifted to alert level 2," Wilfredo Cabral, officer-in-charge of the DepEd's office for the undersecretary of human resources, said in an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
Metro Manila eased to Alert Level 2 in early November as the number of COVID-19 infections began to drop.
The 28 Metro Manila schools are part of 177 schools added for the pilot phase, which began in mid-November in 120 public and private schools.
Cabral said if a new coronavirus infection emerged, “whatever variant, the implementation of face-to-face classes in that school will immediately stop.”
The pilot is the first of the government's three-phased plan to reopen basic education schools after nearly two years of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, PNP chief Brig. Gen. Dionardo Carlos ordered all unit commanders in the NCR to increase police visibility as the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face (F2F) classes starts Monday in 28 public schools across the metropolis.
“The resumption of the face-to-face learning setup is not new anymore for us since other schools have already started this last November. We just have to follow the template and remind our police personnel to strictly limit themselves from going inside school premises unless there is a request for security assistance,” Carlos said in a statement on Sunday.
He said the PNP would do its best to keep students as well as school personnel away from harm.
By doing so, police will only provide a limited presence outside the school compounds except in emergencies when police assistance is sought by school authorities, he added.
Carlos also reminded the students, parents and guardians to still practice the minimum health protocols against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) such as wearing of face masks, safe physical distancing and frequent hand washing.
He assured local government units and health authorities of PNP assistance in implementing the minimum public health standards in school premises.
In related developments, Carlos ordered a probe into a shooting incident inside the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur last Dec. 2.
“We are alarmed by this act of violence displayed inside a campus. I have ordered the concerned police unit to resolve this case at the soonest possible time,” he saideport from the Lanao del Sur Police Provincial Office stated that the victim, Aripodin Darayno Mamacuna, 21, was walking inside the campus when he noticed that a group of men was following him.
He proceeded to the MSU grandstand to hide but was caught and beaten up. Onlookers tried to stop the attackers but were shot at by the suspects.
An off-duty PNP personnel, who was watching the awarding ceremony of a sporting event at the grandstand, immediately responded to the site, which resulted in an exchange of gunfire.
One of the suspects was hit in the arm, prompting his group to run away.
The suspects were identified as Macaraya Saripada Armama, Banjo Saripada, and Rakim Saripada — all of legal age and residents of Barangay Rapasun, Marawi City.
The victims, on the other hand, were identified as Aripodin Darayno Mamacuna, Anwar Dimaodin Kiram, and Mohaimen Batal Maba.
Carlos said the PNP was still establishing the motive in the attack, not discounting the possibility of a gang war.