School heads authorized to suspend classes due to COVID-19
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) has authorized school heads and local education officials to suspend classes due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) if a case is confirmed within their respective areas.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in the second set of policy directives regarding COVID-19, said regional directors, school division superintendents and school heads are authorized to suspend classes if certain conditions are met.

School heads may suspend classes if there is a confirmed case in the school, while division superintendents can declare suspension of classes in affected schools and adjacent areas if two or more schools in a city or municipality have confirmed cases.

Depending on the local situation, division superintendents may also suspend classes in the entire city or municipality.

“If there is community level transmission in a city or municipality or several cities or municipalities, the school division superintendents can declare the suspension of classes in the affected cities/municipalities or, depending on the local situation, in the entire province,” read the memorandum.

“If there is a community level transmission in two or more provinces, regional directors can declare suspension of classes in the affected provinces or, depending on the local situation, in the entire region,” it added.

Briones said all regional and schools division offices are required to report class suspensions to the agency’s disaster risk reduction and management service.

Local government officials may also suspend classes within their localities.

In its second policy directives regarding COVID-19, the DepEd said the suspension of all national and regional activities this February remain in effect.

Also suspended were other off campus activities, including field trips scheduled this month.

Meanwhile, DepEd personnel and student who decided to proceed with their travels to countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases will be subjected to mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days.

“The 14 days of self-quarantine of DepEd personnel shall be charged to their leave credits, while learners on self-quarantine shall be provided with alternative delivery modes of education,” it added.

The DepEd encouraged public schools to also adopt the precautionary measures it included in its policy directives regarding COVID-19.

CHED guidelines

Meanwhile, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) advised higher education institutions to establish a central contact that would provide stakeholders with information about COVID-19.

Citing fear, stigma and misinformation circulating about the disease, CHED chairman J. Prospero De Vera III this would provide counsel to students, faculty and staff who are experiencing anxiety over the matter.

De Vera also enjoined higher education institutions to follow guidelines issued by the Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Tertiary institutions were also encouraged to establish screening protocols based on WHO guidelines for screening and response, with the CHED chief stressing that response protocols must be aligned with the most recent recommendations from experts.

“Students, faculty and staff must be advised to stop reading, liking and sharing fake news and unverified and misleading information from social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube,” said De Vera.

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