Unless accompanied by their parents, students are discouraged from wandering around in public places as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Though the agency has not set a definite period for the implementation of the order, the announcement coincides with the five-day class suspension of all schools in Metro Manila from March 10 to March 14, 2020.
“The President has directed all local officials in NCR (National Capital Region) from mayor down to punong barangays (village captain) as well as all units of the Philippine National Police to ensure that no children are seen loitering around and, if they are seen, they are to be immediately sent home to do their homework,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, in a press statement.
“I-a-advise silang umuwi. Kung kinakailangang ihatid sila ng pulis, ihahatid sila ng pulis,” he told reporters.
Secretary Año also pointed out that it is the parents’ responsibility to keep their kids at home, and encouraged parents to discipline and supervise their children’s activities.
In a press briefing at the Malacanang today, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the Palace has advised the management of shopping centers to "discourage" students from entering their establishments.
“Siguro what the malls and the movie houses should do is not to allow those students. They should also cooperate,” according to Panelo.
When asked whether malls will be liable if they end up letting students in, Panelo said they are just making an appeal. "I am appealing to them. Kasi nga kailangan tayong magtulungan eh. All of us should do something. We should be creative," he said.
Before the announcement of suspensions, Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco expressed his hope for the Department of Education (DepEd) to grant automatic passing for all students in light of COVID-19. But DepEd has said in a statement that it will facilitate the communication of teachers with the students and their parents and will provide the necessary assignments so the students can still continue learning and be productive despite the suspensions.
Meanwhile, the DILG has also ordered the suspension of mass gatherings for the week upon the recommendations of the Department of Health’s (DOH) expert advisory group in order to decrease the risk of transmission and lower exposure to the virus.
As of the latest count, the Philippines has 33 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The whole country is also under a state of public health emergency as announced by President Duterte.
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This article was updated on March 10, 2020 at 4:40 p.m. to reflect the correct number of people with COVID-19 as per the new announcement of the DOH.