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DepEd: Parents Have Last Say On In-Person Classes

DepEd: Parents Have Last Say On In-Person Classes
A staff member of Dagat Dagatan Elementary School in Navotas City prepares materials for face-to-face classes on Sept. 16, 2021 in case the government allows their resumption. Photo by Geremy Pintolo, The Philippine STAR

While the Department of Education (DepEd) and select local government units are preparing the rollout of limited face-to-face classes next month, parents still have the last say on whether they would allow their children to physically attend school, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said on Monday, Oct. 25.

“Of course we understand the concern of the parents, they look after the welfare of their children and also the safety of their children… If the parents back out, maybe they have read that there is an increase in (COVID-19 cases) in their territory, their risk assessment has changed. We will not force them. This is not mandatory, we need the consent of the parents for their child to participate,” Briones noted.

She said they have already identified 90 public schools out of their target of 100 cleared to join the pilot implementation of face-to-face learning.

Briones disclosed that about 93.2% of personnel in these schools are fully vaccinated, adding that “of course there is a preference, parents have also expressed this, that they would want vaccinated staff and teachers to attend to their children.”

The DepEd chief said the pilot run of the limited face-to-face classes is scheduled to begin on Nov. 15 and they are looking at the participation of 20 private schools.

“So far, we have 10 more to go and then we will add the 20 private schools. And right now, one international school has submitted to us their plan and the Department of Health (DOH) needs to vet and conduct risk assessment wherever they are,” she said.

Briones reiterated that the face-to-face learning to be piloted would be very different from pre-COVID-19 times. She also gave assurance that should there be an increase in COVID-19 cases in the areas identified, the limited in-person classes would be suspended.

Required

The Department of Health (DOH) can require parents to have their children vaccinated against COVID, Sen. Francis Tolentino said on Monday.

Citing Republic Act No. 10152 or the “Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act,” Tolentino said the secretary of health can determine through a department circular which type of “vaccine-preventable diseases” can be covered by mandatory vaccination aside from those listed in the law.

He also said the Constitution allows mandatory vaccination without the need for an enabling law.

“Our provision in the Constitution in terms of protecting the health of our people is enough to be the base for vaccination of minors. There is enough authority even without an enabling law to enforce this,” Tolentino said.

Under Section 3 of RA 10152, the mandatory basic immunization for all infants and children covers diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; poliomyelitis, measles and mumps; rubella or German measles, hepatitis-B and influenza type B.

Tolentino added this is the right time for the DOH to require parents or legal guardians to get their children inoculated, as vaccine supplies continue to arrive in the country.

Last month, Malacañang finally allowed the vaccination against COVID-19 of the country’s general population while several local governments have already opened pre-registration for ages 12 to 17. – With Rainier Allan Ronda, Paolo Romero