MANILA, Aug 22 (Mabuhay) — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday welcomed the return of learners to face-to-face (F2F) classes after two years of school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

FLAG-RAISING. Pupils wearing face masks put the right hand on their chests during the flag-raising rites at the Delfin Geraldez Elementary School, Barangay Kaligayahan, Quezon City on Monday (Aug. 22, 2022). Learners wear face masks at all times, except when eating, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in schools. (MNS photo)

“I welcome the return of our children to full face-to-face classes after two years of online learning due to the pandemic,” Marcos said in a statement posted in the official Facebook page of the Office of the President.

Marcos said that it was always his belief that learning is “more effective inside classrooms where students fully interact with their teachers and fellow students.”

The President also reminded teachers and students to observe minimum public health standards such as mask-wearing, hand washing and physical distancing.

“Since the threat of Covid-19 is still in our midst, it is important that our teachers and students continue to observe the minimum health protocols to ensure that they remain healthy while learning new things,” he added.

Marcos also expressed confidence that with Vice President Sara Duterte heading the Department of Education (DepEd), the students will finally get the quality education they deserve.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles also wished students an “enjoyable” and “safe” first day of F2F classes.

“Bagama’t hindi pa full face-to-face classes, patuloy na sumunod sa mga guidelines na ibibigay sa inyo ni Ma’am at Sir lalo na sa Covid-19 safety protocols (Although it is not yet full face-to-face classes, follow the guidelines from teachers especially on the Covid-19 safety protocols),” she said in a post in her official Facebook page.

In-person classes for both private and public schools kicked off on Monday with full implementation on Nov. 2.

There are 203 days for academic year 2022-2023 for public schools, which will begin on Aug. 22, 2022 and will end on July 7, 2023.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa earlier said a total of 24,175 schools will implement five days of face-to-face classes and 29,721 schools will hold classes through blended learning.

He said there is no discrimination between vaccinated and unvaccinated students, as Covid-19 vaccination is not mandatory in the Philippines.

However, the DepEd has partnered with the Department of Health and local government units to provide counseling to convince those still unvaccinated.

Currently, he said 92 percent of its teaching and non-teaching staff have received their primary doses of the Covid-19 vaccine while 19 percent of enrolled students have received their second dose of the vaccine. (MNS)