MANILA (UPDATE) - Ten teachers and 2 students in a secondary school in Ilagan City, Isabela tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Department of Education said Thursday, clarifying earlier reports.
Isabela Governor Rodito Albano first told TeleRadyo that 11 public school teachers in Ilagan had been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
"Contrary to the report that 11 teachers in the city tested positive (for) COVID-19, 10 teachers in a secondary school in the city underwent a swab test and all tested positive," Estela Cariño, director of the DepEd in Cagayan Valley, said in a statement.
All 10 are asymptomatic and currently confined in quarantine facilities, said Cariño.
Cariño also clarified that, contrary to reports, the teachers did not get COVID-19 while distributing self-learning modules (SLMs).
"The SLMs shall be deposited by the schools at the drop-off points at the barangay halls. The barangay officials, tasked as knowledge bearers, did the distribution," she said.
In an interview, Cariño said the teachers were found positive for the disease after attending a meeting at the school last Sept. 21.
After the meeting, one of the teachers began experiencing symptoms and was found positive for the virus, prompting their co-workers to get tested, she said.
Cariño said the first to test positive may have gotten the virus from a sibling, a storeowner also sickened by the disease.
Two students — one in Grade 8 and another in Grade 12 — also contracted the virus, said Cariño.
It remains unclear where the students, who are both asymptomatic, got the virus. But both of them visited the school, and one is a neighbor of the teacher who first got infected, she added.
"Hindi rin tiyak kung sa school sila nahawa kasi lumalabas naman sila sa community."
(It's not sure if they got infected from the school because they also go out in the community.)
Meanwhile, 8 other teachers who also attended the Sept. 21 meeting were found negative for the virus but still went on quarantine within the school premises.
Cariño said the campus has been placed on lockdown for disinfection.
"Magko-conduct ulit [ng disinfection sa school] kapag umalis iyong mga naiwan," she said, referring to the teachers who tested negative.
(There will be disinfection again when the teachers leave the school.)
Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, Ilagan City was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until Oct. 16 to stem the spread of the virus.
The DepEd earlier said teachers who get COVID-19 could avail of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. benefit packages for hospitalization and treatment expenses.
Warning vs false info, staged photos
Also on Thursday, the DepEd said it received reports of "false information and malicious, staged photos on the conduct of School Year 2020-2021" circulating on social media.
"DepEd is keen to investigate these activities and exhaust legal remedies to ensure that only accurate information reach our stakeholders," the agency said, refusing to provide further details while investigations are ongoing.
The DepEd advised the public to verify information or photos with the agency "for the best interest of everyone who is still adjusting to the transition to distance learning."
Classes in public schools opened last Monday, under a blended distance learning system as government prohibited in-person classes due to the pandemic.