education in the Philippines

Groups urge gov’t to ‘build confidence’ for safe school reopening

Bonz Magsambol
Groups urge gov’t to ‘build confidence’ for safe school reopening

IN-PERSON CLASSES. DepEd inspects Tamulaya Elementary School in Polillo Island, Quezon. The school is set to start limited face-to-face classes on November 15

DepEd

The groups say the government guidelines on school reopening lack 'key health protection measures' that can boost the nation's confidence for face-to-face classes

As the government starts a pilot run of limited face-to-face classes for basic education students on November 15, several groups called for more health protection measures to build the confidence of students and teachers of a safe school reopening.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, November 10, the groups listed five demands that should be met by the government to ensure safe reopening of schools.

  • Weekly COVID-19 antigen testing to screen all learners, teachers, and staff who will participate in the classroom in-person learning;
  • Special vaccination program in areas where schools that will participate in the pilot run of face-to-face classes are located;
  • Retrofitting of classrooms to ensure better ventilation, with each having a minimum of two electric fans, and air-conditioned rooms having air filters;
  • Mass hiring of school nurses;
  • Medical fund for free treatment of those who will get infected with COVID-19.

The statement was signed by the following groups:

  • Alliance of Concerned Teachers
  • National Union of Students of the Philippines
  • Agham
  • Coalition for People’s Right to Health
  • National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates-Youth
  • Amihan
  • Salinlahi
  • Gabriela
  • Katribu Youth
  • Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
  • ACT Teachers Partylist
  • Kabataan Partylist
  • Anakpawis Partylist

On Tuesday November 9, the Department of Education (DepEd) said that students joining the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes in the country will not undergo COVID-19 testing.

Education officials said that COVID-19 testing, especially the process of swabbing for samples, would be traumatic for young students. (READ: No COVID-19 testing for students in face-to-face classes – DepEd)

While the process of swabbing can be painful or uncomfortable for many, the Philippines offers also another process of COVID-19 testing that is easier and faster – the saliva-based COVID-19 testing. It has been approved by the health department for use since January 2021.

For college students, the government body tasked to manage the country’s pandemic response has allowed limited face-to-face classes for all degree programs in areas that are under Alert Level 2, including Metro Manila. Prior to this, limited in-person classes were only allowed for select degree programs.

The groups said that the DepEd and the Commission on Higher Education’s guidelines for school reopening lack “key health protection measures” that can boost the nation’s confidence for in-person classes in the middle of the pandemic.

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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.