MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the national government to expedite the construction of quarantine centers and field hospitals, instead of using school buildings for COVID-19 patients, to ease the burden on the country’s health care system.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture, said that using schools as isolation facilities “is not sustainable and does not foster a culture of safety in the basic education system.”
“Ang mabilis na pagpapatayo ng mga field hospitals at mga quarantine centers ang isang paraan upang mabigyan natin ng agarang atensyon ang mga kababayan nating nagkakasakit,” he said in a statement.
“Imbes na masanay tayong gumamit ng mga paaralan bilang isolation facilities o evacuation centers, ang dapat nating tiyakin ay ang pagkakaroon ng sapat at angkop na mga pasilidad para sa mga nangangailan ng tulong medikal,” he added.
The senator also pointed out that before the pandemic, the prolonged use of school facilities in times of disasters, such as evacuation centers during calamities, tends to delay the resumption of classes.
Gatchalian pitched anew his proposal to build an evacuation center in every city and municipality in the country, which is stated in Senate Bill No. 747 that he filed in 2019.
Under the proposed measure, these evacuation centers will provide temporary accommodation for people who have been evacuated or displaced from their homes due to emergencies, including the outbreak of illnesses and diseases.
The Department of Education earlier said it has allowed some schools in the country to be used as quarantine facilities for suspected coronavirus cases to help decongest hospitals from COVID-19 admission. Other schools were also being used as vaccination sites.
The department also stressed that its terms and conditions should be satisfied and that compliance with quarantine guidelines should be ensured before a school can be converted into a quarantine facility.
The use of public schools as a quarantine facility or vaccination site should also be the “last option,” stressing the need to ensure the safety of personnel who report for work on-site.