Proposed areas for pilot testing of in-person classes should meet conditions — Duque

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2021   •   338

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday said that certain conditions must be met if ever the pilot testing of face-to-face classes will be allowed.

“Dapat siguraduhin muna na ang mga metrics na walang COVID cases sa isang lugar, nasa low-risk ang kanilang classification or walang reported na daily new cases for the last 28 days,” Duque said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

The local health system must also be capable of responding to and handling a surge in cases.

“Ang kanilang health system ay dapat maseguro na kung sakaling magkaroon ng surge doon sa lugar kung saan magsasagawa ng pilot test ng face-to-face classes ay dapat sapat ang support system,” Duque said.

Teachers participating in the pilot testing must also be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Mga teachers muna ang kinakailangang mabigyan ng proteksyon. Kapag sapat na ang pagbabakuna sa kanila, malamang ay mauumpisahan ng 100 paaralan ang pagsasagawa ng face-to-face classes,” the DOH chief said.

Duque, who also chairs the Inter-Agency Task Force, provided the conditions when asked about the proposal to try out face-to-face classes at the basic education level.

The Department of Education (DepEd) and other sectors previously pushed for the conduct of pilot testing of physical classes in at least 100 schools in areas that have lower COVID-19 risk.

Some sectors have expressed concern about the possible long-term impact on learning and productivity of students of the prolonged school closures.

But President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly rejected attempts to resume face-to-face classes due to the threat of the more contagious variants of COVID-19.

He previously said that he is not in favor of allowing in-person classes because he is seeking to protect the health of the students against the dangers of coronavirus disease.

He added that he would only allow students to physically return to schools when all Filipinos have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Since last year, the government has suspended in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shifted to alternative learning programs which include having students attend classes through distance learning methods such as online, printed modules, and radio and television-based instructions.

No more face shields outside, only in 3Cs — Duterte

Marje Pelayo   •   September 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Wednesday (September 22) the recommendation of the technical advisory group of the Department of Health (DOH) and medical experts to lift the order of mandatory face shields outdoors.

Instead, the President limits its use only in 3Cs or in ‘closed, crowded, and close contact’ areas.

“Pwede ng tanggalin sa labas. No more face shield outside, Ang limitasyon ng faceshield, gamitin mo [sa] 3Cs, closed…whatever facility – ospital o basta magkadikit dikit. Crowded ganoon rin. It’s a crowded room tapos closed lahat, mas delikado. Saka ang closed contact kung magkadikit dikit ang tao. So diyan applicable pa rin ang face shield,” he said.

Duterte explained that he ordered the mandatory use of face shields because he was worried about the surge of Delta variant cases.

“[Ang] sabi ko, takot ako lalo na pagdating ng COVID (Delta). I got so scared that I ordered the reimposition of the face shield. Ang akin naman, sabi ko maski gaano kaliit ang contributing factor niya to avoid COVID, okay na lang,” he said.

Following this development, the government is set to issue guidelines on the use of face shields.

“I have ordered that the implementation guidelines be issued immediately,” the President said.

Duterte’s decision came after House Speaker Allan Velasco asked him through a letter to reconsider the policy. The lawmaker cited experts’ studies indicating that the combination of face shields and masks made little difference over the use of masks alone.

DepEd finalizing list of schools joining dry run of limited in-person classes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The process on the revalidation of schools participating in the pilot run of face-to-face classes has entered the final stages, the Department of Education (DepEd) said Tuesday.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said they are now into the execution phase where schools eyeing to join the pilot run are being inspected.

Malaluan said they are working closely with the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure that schools participating in the dry run have passed the criteria and have the capacity to provide health and safety standards in terms of personal protective equipment, sanitation, detection and referral, ventilation, contact tracing, and quarantine, coordination, and contingency measures.

They are eyeing to complete the revalidation by Friday, Sept. 24, he added.

“Last week pa ito inumpisahan ng mga schools natin. Ang deadline na ibinigay sa kanila ay Friday. Ito’y revalidation dahil doon sa mga enhancements na naidagdag pa doon sa joint guidelines natin with DOH, at tsaka isinama rin natin yung level of vaccination of teachers and non-teaching personnel,” he said.

 The DepEd earlier said that the pilot will only be participated by at least 100 public schools and 20 private schools located in minimal-risk areas based on the criteria set by DOH.

Participating schools must have the written support and consent of parents of students who shall participate in the pilot. No learner shall be forced to attend the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes.

The pilot will be conducted with a combination of face-to-face classes in school and distance learning modalities for two months.

DepEd also said that face-to-face classes shall be conducted half-day every other week, with participating schools ensuring that class schedules are arranged equitably so that all qualified learners have the opportunity to attend face-to-face classes.

COVID-19 antigen test para sa mga maghahain ng COC, hindi inirerekomenda ng DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Hindi sang-ayon ang Department of Health (DOH) sa paggamit ng antigen test ng mga maghahain ng kanilang certificate of candidacy o COC sa Oktubre.

Una nang inanunsyo ng Commission on Elections (COMELEC) na magtatakda ito ng antigen testing booth kung saan idaraos ang COC filing ng mga kakandidato sa 2022 elections na hindi makapagsusumite ng RT-PCR test result.

Kabilang sa mga requirement ng COMELEC ang pagprisinta ng negative result sa sinomang tatakbo sa pagka-pangulo, vice president, senator o party-list representative na magsusumite ng kanilang certificate of candidacy, gayundin ang kanilang mga kasama sa araw ng COC filing.

Pero ayon kay DOH Undesecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, may akmang gamit ang rapid antigen test kaya hindi ito ang dapat na gamitin ng COMELEC.

Batay sa DOH Covid-19 management protocol, ang mga rapid antigen test ay para lamang sa mga may matas na viral load o flu-like symptoms, maging sa mga may exposure sa COVID-19 positive at mga nakatira sa mga lugar na may clustering o surge ng kaso.

“We don’t recommend the rapid antigen test kits to be used as a screening test for people who will vote or for people whose going to join in events. Kaya nga sabi nga namin last week, kailangan appropriate ang use para walang question as the results that will come out if ever we use it,” ani Vergeire.

Magpupulong muna aniya ang DOH at COMELEC kung ano ang mga dapat na ipatupad na protocol upang masegurong ligtas at hindi maging dahilan ng hawaan ng COVID-19 ang isasagawang paghahain ng COC ng mga kakandidato sa darating na halalan.

“Makikipag-ugnayan din tayo because the COMELEC naman po nakikipag- ugnayan sa atin, nakikipagusap sa atin tungkol sa mga health protocols. Kasama pa rin po kami sa nagbibigay ng recommendation, we will be discussing this with them para po appropriate na mga testing protocols ang maisagwa natin sa mga ganitong events na ito,” ang pahayag ni Vergeire.

Sa Oktubre na nakatakdang simulan ang paghahain ng COC para sa mga nais tumakbo sa 2022 elections.

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