COVID-19

Mask on: Doctors urge continued masking inside classrooms

Bonz Magsambol
Mask on: Doctors urge continued masking inside classrooms
'We would like to warn people about it, because as your doctors, we need to educate you about the consequences of COVID-19,' says PIDSP president Dr. Fatima Gimenez

MANILA, Philippines – With mask use now optional, pediatricians urged schools to still encourage students to wear face masks inside classrooms and educate them about the benefits of wearing them.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, November 8, the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) recommended continued use of face masks in classrooms as the Philippines continues to ease its pandemic restrictions.

“The PPS and PIDSP reiterate that while there are profound benefits of in-person learning, the threat of COVD-19 among vaccinated and unvaccinated children persists, and so wearing of face masks in indoor school facilities must be continued to decrease the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission,” PPS president Dr. Florentina said, reading their joint statement with PIDSP.

On October 28, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order No. 7 lifting a mask-wearing mandate that has been in place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Days later, the Department of Education (DepEd) said that it was allowing optional mask wearing inside classrooms following the President’s order.

At a press briefing on Monday, November 7, DepEd spokesman Michael Poa said that the agency was just following the EO 7 but it didn’t mean that students were asked not to wear face masks.

“I will go with what the Vice President has said, tayo po ay sumunod sa (let’s follow) EO 7. We always take our cue with the DOH and the EO 7. Hindi po natin sinabi na ‘wag magmask (We’re not saying that they should not wear masks), it’s up to the parents, up to the guardians,” Poa said when asked whether the DepEd would still encourage mask-wearing among students.

Health experts have repeatedly reminded the public that face masks not just protect against COVID-19, but other diseases as well.

Students still wear face masks at the Eusebio High School in Pasig Cit,. School principal Gilbert Inocencio told Rappler that they still encouraged students to wear face masks inside classrooms, as this adds another layer of protection against COVID-19 and other diseases.

Mask on: Doctors urge continued masking inside classrooms

PIDSP president Dr. Fatima Gimenez said the purpose of their recommendation was to remind the public that COVID-19 is still here.

“We would like to warn people about it, because as your doctors, we need to educate you about the consequences of COVID-19,” she said.

On Friday, November 4, the Department of Health reported that some 3,900 youth aged 12 to 17 got infected with COVID-19 from September 1 to November 3, or since Philippine schools gradually returned to face-to-face classes after more than two years of forced campus shutdowns. – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.