DOH prioritizes teachers’ vaccination for in-person classes

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
DOH prioritizes teachersâ vaccination for in-person classes
Staff of Dagat Dagatan Elementary School in Navotas City prepare the classroom and other materials needed on Sept. 16, 2021 once the government allows the resumption of face-to-face classes.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has agreed to prioritize the vaccination of teachers in areas selected for the pilot resumption of face-to-face classes in the country.

Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said that both teaching and non-teaching personnel will be prioritized even if they are in areas not in the “geographical prioritization” of the national government.

“We have an understanding with the Department of Health and the national vaccination operations center that pilot schools will be given priority and allocation,” Malaluan said on Tuesday in an interview on One News’ “The Chiefs.”

“In our revalidation of risk assessment safety tool, it will include the rate of vaccinations and whatever residual we will fill up and prioritize teaching and non-teaching personnel in the pilot,” he added.

Malaluan said the vaccination rate for the entire teaching population under the Department of Education (DepEd) is hovering at around 30-plus percent level.

The areas with highest vaccination rates are those in the National Capital Region, Regions IV-A (Calabarzon), VI (Western Visayas) and VII (Central Visayas).

The DepEd and the DOH are set to release the full guidelines on the implementation of face-to-face classes within the week.

“The guidelines cover both the blending of the face-to-face learning and integrating health and safety standards as indicated by DOH for eligible schools and students,” Malaluan said.

They provide guidance on different transmission scenarios, if ever there is a positive COVID-19 case among students, teachers or even their household members, he added.

“It is going to be a very delicate exercise, one misstep can jeopardize the expansion of face-to-face classes, and we know that it is a very important component of learning. We are treating this with utmost and extraordinary diligence,” he said.

The pilot run will be implemented in 100 public and 20 private schools, which will still undergo selection, with the approval of President Duterte.

“To the extent that we can foresee scenarios, we try to provide a very specific measure so that we don’t get caught in a panic when something happens and interventions are done on the ground,” Malaluan said.

Unicef’s help

Meanwhile, the Philippines has asked the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help with detailed plans on how to conduct face-to-face classes safely after the government approved a pilot run of limited in-person schooling in areas low-risk for COVID-19.

The Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York said yesterday that Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., who is in New York for the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), shared the Philippines’ concerns with the UN children’s agency on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on education, particularly on children and youth during a visit to the UNICEF office. – Pia Lee-Brago

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