“Ang mga teachers natin, mga staff na 65 years old and below, kung walang comorbidities, pwede silang sumali sa programa, pwede silang mag-serve regardless of their vaccination status,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a press briefing held the same day.
Sec. Briones said that the reason for this is due to “human rights declaration of individuals concerning their health,” adding that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in the country is not yet “mandatory, but voluntary.”
Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 levels will be prioritized in the pilot run with limited class sizes. According to an interview with DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan earlier this month, this was upon consultation with the DOH and other medical experts.
“This is going to happen in areas with minimal risk and this age group is actually the age group that the medical experts have found based on the data to be the most resilient so far from COVID transmission,” he shared in an interview with CNN Philippines.
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Despite the non-requirement, Sec. Briones is confident that majority of teachers have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Sa tingin namin, napaka-significant na ng number ng teachers [who are vaccinated], kasi we’re only talking of 100 public schools and 20 private schools. Hindi siguro enormous ang challenge to have vaccinated teachers,” she said in the briefing.
In their official statement, DepEd emphasized that the pilot run of face-to-face classes will only resume in “minimal-risk areas” based on the criteria set by the Department of Health (DOH), must have passed the safety assessment using the school safety assessment tool of DepEd, and have the support of the local government unit in the form of a resolution or letter of support.
In addition, “participating schools must have the written support and consent of parents who shall participate in the pilot.” The DepEd said that no student will be forced to attend the limited face-to-face classes.
A total of 100 public schools have been selected, while 20 private schools will still undergo selection. There is no exact date yet for the start of the limited face-to-face classes.
Click here for DepEd's plans regarding the implementation of limited face-to-face classes.