By Melina Hernando-Malipot
As it monitors further developments regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, the Department of Education (DepEd) said that schools may push through with in-campus activities as long as precautionary measures are in place.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in an earlier interview, said that so far, school activities inside the campus may push through as scheduled as long as officials, teachers, and learners “follow the protocols” set by the DepEd to curb possible spread of COVID-19.
Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua also noted that all activities that would require learners and teachers to gather in one venue outside the school premises remain suspended. These include regional and national contests, conferences and other related activities.
However, as long as programs are held inside the school grounds, Pascua noted that the schools may hold activities with proper caution. “For instance, students and teachers who have colds and who are coughing or those that exhibit symptoms related to contagious infection should not be allowed to join such activities,” he added.
Monitor learners, personnel
DepEd also continues to monitor learners and personnel who may be at risk due to COVID-19.
Based on its COVID-19 Situational Report No. 18 as of Feb. 17, DepEd reported that “one employee from Pangasinan II Division is under 14-day quarantine after arriving from Taiwan on February 10.”
As of Feb. 13, DepEd said that reported persons under monitoring are from Schools Division of Cagayan, Lasam District. One Grade 7 student is on home quarantine with two elementary students after being exposed to the mother who came from Macao. DepEd said that the result of tests were negative.
Other reported quarantined personnel from Misamis Occidental Division is with travel history from Australia and one personnel from Malaybalay Division with flight lay-over in China. DepEd noted that two learners from Cebu Province with Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI) are closely monitored by their respective Rural Health Unit (RHU) since Feb. 12 after being exposed to the father with travel history to an affected area.
Earlier, DepEd noted that Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo suspended classes for three days – from Feb. 5 to 7 – in all public schools in the province due to the threat of the COVID-19. DepEd said that that there were 333, 206 learners in 899 schools that were affected by the suspension of classes at all levels in Region VII. The private schools were given the discretion whether or not to suspend classes.
Meanwhile, DepEd assured that Alternative Delivery Modes of education were given to quarantined learners who have exhibited symptoms such as fever, cough and colds and other contagious infections.
Earlier, DepEd allowed its local officials to declare suspension of classes as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 – especially in areas where there are confirmed cases.
As cited in DepEd Memo No. 21 series of 2020 or the Second Set of Policy Directives of the DepEd Task Force nCoV (COVID-19), regional directors (RDs), school division superintendents (SDSs), and school heads “are authorized to suspend classes” based on several conditions.
DepEd said that its local officials – in coordination with their respective local government units and health authorities – may declare class suspension if “one school has confirmed one positive case” of COVID-19 and “if two or more schools in one city or municipality have a confirmed a positive case” of COVID-19. The SDSs can also declare the suspension of classes in the affected schools and adjacent areas or, depending on the local situation, in the entire city or municipality.