School enrollment hits 13 million

It is all systems go for the reopening of schools across the country on 22 August, Department of Education (DepEd) spokesperson Michael Poa said on Tuesday.

“Based upon the current trends, our learners are excited to return to in-person classes,” he said.

To date, Poa said some 13,152 million learners have so far enrolled for the resumption of face-to-face classes in the new school year.

Poa noted that the incoming schoolyear’s enrollment turnout is so far “significantly” higher than in prior years.

To allay health concerns, DepEd Secretary and Vice President Sara Z. Duterte has given explicit instructions to DepEd regional offices to coordinate with regional offices of the Department of Health (DoH) “to roll out counseling for the unvaccinated and mobile vaccination,” Poa said. “The idea is to have regular sessions to encourage and convince them to get vaccinated,” he noted.

The DoH will launch mobile vaccination clinics at schools nationwide.

DepEd will continue to implement a non-discriminatory policy for learners as well as teaching and non-teaching personnel when it comes to vaccination.

“There will be no separate guidelines for those vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals; we still see vaccination as voluntary,” Poa explained.

DoH won’t stop in-person classes

The DoH said it will not stop or delay the face-to-face classes in public and private schools set to start this month despite the detection of a monkeypox case in the country.

“There is no reason for us to delay or stop the opening of classes. We have safeguards that were put in place to ensure the safety of our children,” Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a media briefing.

“No one should be able to go to school with symptoms or if they already have lesions, we should be able to see them right away,” she added.

Hospitals ‘ready’ vs monkeypox

Vergeire also assured the public that the government is prepared should more people contract the monkeypox virus in the country.

“The country is ready to manage our monkeypox cases. The country is ready to do surveillance for the monkeypox transmission,” she said.

The official added that the instructions were already given to hospitals in case more cases of monkeypox virus would be detected.

In a separate interview, Private Hospital Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi) Dr. Jose de Grano said that private hospitals are prepared to handle cases of monkeypox.

Task force proposed

A partylist lawmaker has proposed the immediate creation of a National Task Force to monitor the status of monkeypox and combat it to prevent community transmission and infection of the virus.

AGRI Partylist Rep. Wilbert Lee stressed in House Resolution 134 the importance of forming a national task force comprised of relevant government agencies working in conjunction with the private sector to enhance readiness and develop proactive methods to battle monkeypox.

“The said national task force against the monkeypox virus shall also update the public on the status of this disease, implement robust decisions to fight the continued threats of the monkeypox virus, and develop education and strategic communication materials that will equip and prepare the general population to mitigate the risk of being infected by the virus and qualm the potential panic and misinformation that can affect the public,” Lee said.

PCG ready for influx of students

As students return to school, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has raised its alert status for the implementation of Oplan Balik Eskwela 2022 from 15 to 29 August.

Acting on the directives of Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista, PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu said the PCG will coordinate with the Philippine Ports Authority and the Cebu Ports Authority for the 24/7 operations of DoTr Malasakit Help Desks in major ports, harbors, and other maritime transport facilities where heavy influx of passengers is expected due to the resumption of classes.


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