MANILA — The Department of Education (DepEd) said Thursday its policy allowing only school personnel vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend in-person classes is not discriminatory.
In a statement, the DepEd explained that the policy is meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
"The said policy does not and is not intended to unjustly discriminate against any DepEd employee who chooses not to be vaccinated," it said.
The DepEd said unvaccinated employees are "treated fairly" since they are still allowed to work under alternative work arrangements.
The agency also does not terminate employees on the sole basis of their vaccination status, it added.
The DepEd said the policy is consistent with the government's rule that requires vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results for employees who physically report to workplaces.
Last November, the DepEd began a "pilot phase" of in-person classes, the first time that basic education schools reopened for classroom sessions in almost 2 years since the start of the pandemic.
Nearly 300 schools across the country and over 15,600 students from Grades 1 to 3 and senior high school participated in the pilot run.
The DepEd plans to start an "expansion phase," under which more schools in areas under Alert Level 1 and 2 will be holding in-person classes, by February.