MANILA, Philippines — All teachers and school personnel who will be participating in the pilot run of face-to-face classes should be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Department of Education (DepEd) said Monday.
During a joint presser held by DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH), Education Secretary Leonor Briones said teachers joining the dry run need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. They should also be under 65 years old without any co-morbidities.
“I believe that if we will push through with this pilot study, we must ensure that the teachers, the staff, the officials who will deal with children, have to be vaccinated,” Briones said.
“This was agreed on by the DepEd and DOH that vaccinations should be there to ensure the safety of our children,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in the same press event.
DepEd earlier said that COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory for teaching and non-teaching personnel joining the pilot test.
The DOH, however, said that regular, mandatory testing for teachers and students is still not being discussed.
“We still follow our risk-based testing protocols. We do not recommend the regular testing of students and even teachers and non-teaching personnel in order for them to go to schools,” Vergeire said.
She assured that contingency plans are being prepared to ensure the prevention of infections in schools during the pilot test.
The DepEd has been preparing to conduct a dry run for limited physical classes in areas classified as low-risk for COVID-19.
The pilot run will be implemented in 100 public elementary schools, from kindergarten to Grade 3, five public senior high schools, and 20 private schools.
The number of students participating in the program will also be limited, with consent from parents.
Under the approved guidelines, Kindergarten classes will include 12 learners, while Grades 1 to 3 classes will have 16 students. Technical-Vocation classes in five senior high schools may have 20 learners.
Learners in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will only spend a maximum of 3 hours in school while senior high school students will have 4 hours.
The pilot will feature a combined implementation of face-to-face classes and distance learning.
The dry run will be carried out for two months.
The government has yet to announce the exact date of the pilot run for physical classes, as well as the list of participating schools.
Physical classes in most schools in the country have been suspended since the pandemic due to the threat of novel coronavirus disease.