MANILA (UPDATE) — The Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Health (DOH) are working together to get more school personnel and students vaccinated against COVID-19, ahead of the planned resumption of full in-person classes by the end of the year.
At a Palace briefing on Tuesday, DepEd Spokesperson Michael Poa said Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte asked the agency's regional offices to coordinate with their counterparts in the DOH to offer counseling and mobile COVID-19 vaccination for those who have not gotten the jab.
The goal is to roll out the counseling and mobile vaccination nationwide, he said.
Poa clarified that the DepEd has a "non-discriminatory policy" for unvaccinated school personnel and students.
"Wala pong separate guidelines for those that are vaccinated and unvaccinated, so voluntary pa rin ang pananaw natin sa vaccination," he said.
(There are no separate guidelines for those that are vaccinated and unvaccinated, so our view is that vaccination should still be voluntary.)
Poa added that the DepEd would not require weekly virus testing for school personnel.
Dr. Anna Ong Lim of the DOH's technical advisory group reminded the public to continue following minimum public health standards and get vaccinated as measures to avoid COVID-19 infection, in light of the upcoming resumption of in-person classes.
"We’re blessed to be living in a setting where masks continue to be mandated. Otehr countries that’s what they're trying to reinstitute," she told ANC's Headstart on Thursday.
"We’re 1 of 2 countries that had the longest closures. We're in an era where there are so many interventions that can prevent onward transmission."
The Philippines allows those aged 5 and above to get inoculated against the respiratory illness.
School Year 2022-2023 is set to start on August 22, with schools allowed to implement distance or blended learning until Oct. 31.
Starting Nov. 2, all schools will be required to shift to in-person classes.
The DepEd has required schools to prepare an "infection control plan and containment strategy" in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 13 million learners have enrolled in elementary and secondary schools, according to DepEd data.