DepEd chief Briones urges teachers to get COVID-19 jabs

By RICHA NORIEGA, GMA News

Published February 4, 2022 7:13pm

Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Friday urged teachers to get inoculated against COVID-19 for their own and their students’ protection ahead of the planned expansion of face-to-face classes.

In a virtual press conference, Briones said unvaccinated personnel would still be prohibited from participate in the limited face-to-face classes.

“For those who have hesitations they have a choice, but they cannot participate face-to-face because that for us is a very important policy step to consider the wishes of parents and local government, national government to give emphasis to vaccination,” Briones said.

In the expansion phase, only vaccinated teachers may participate in the face-to-face classes, and vaccinated learners shall be “preferred” to participate.

Meanwhile, Education undersecretary Willie Cabral said as long as there is no interaction with the learners and those teachers who teach inside the classrooms, unvaccinated teachers and school personnel may be required to report onsite provided that they present negative results of RT-PCR and antigen tests.

Cabral said unvaccinated teachers and school personnel may adopt alternative work arrangements, adding that regional directors may be directed to implement appropriate work arrangements depending on the alert level in the area.

Asked on the reports of alleged dangers of COVID-19 vaccine, Briones said she referred it to the Department of Health (DOH) and medical experts.

“I have been receiving letters asking me to stop vaccinating children because of the perceived harm so I decided, I am not a medical expert, when it comes to issues like these then we have to defer to the DOH,” she said.

“Meron naman talagang choice ang parent or teacher na kung ayaw nila, they don’t have to, ano kasi voluntary naman yung vaccination but if they go to school and we have said that kailangan magpakita sila ng result ng RT-PCR and antigen para we also protect those who elect to be vaccinated and to be protected themselves,” she added.

Students vaccinated on school days excused from classes

On support for pediatric vaccination, School Health Division Chief Dr. Corazon Dumlao said students who will be vaccinated during school days shall be excused from attending their classes.

Dumlao said DepEd personnel who are parents and guardians of students who will get vaccinated and will accompany their child for pediatric vaccination during workdays shall also not be considered absent from their work.

She said requirements for the use of schools as vaccination sites have been “more relaxed,” adding that all schools that are qualified to be used as vaccination sites are enjoined to cooperate and coordinate with their respective local government units.

In the expansion phase, schools must be validated as compliant with the standards of the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT) and located in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2 based on the periodic risk assessment by the DOH.

The participating schools in the expansion phase may also include other grade levels, based on the capacity of the schools.

Briones said students who will be participating in the face-to-face classes must also have the written consent of their parents.

The Philippine government has postponed the COVID-19 vaccination of minors aged 5 to 11 to Monday, February 7 due to logistical challenges.

The DOH said the reformulated Pfizer vaccines will arrive on the evening of February 4, the initial rollout schedule. –NB, GMA News

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