Some 37,000 unvaccinated teachers will now be allowed to teach during the resumption of face-to-face classes on August 22, the Department of Education said yesterday.
This was as the Department of Health said some 28,008 new COVID-19 cases were recorded from Aug. 8 to 14—at least three percent higher than the 27,331 cases from Aug. 1 to 7.
The DOH also verified 229 additional deaths—98 of which occurred in August, 129 in July, one in June, and one in September 2021.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, for her part, said COVID-19 cases are expected to go up once schools resume face-to-face classes.
“With the resumption of classes, there will be more people in public places. So, let’s protect the youth, let us get vaccinated and let’s follow minimum public health standards,” Vergeire said.
DepEd Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo said of the total unvaccinated teachers, some 20,000 were committed to receiving the vaccine, while the remaining 17,000 were not.
“Our new policy is that we will allow unvaccinated teachers to report and teach, provided that they will still follow minimum public health protocols, such as wearing of face masks, and the classroom where they will teach has proper ventilation,” Escobedo said.
“We now no longer prohibit from teaching those who are not vaccinated. All teachers will teach our students and they will report to their respective classrooms,” he added.
Teachers who manifest COVID-19 symptoms. Escobedo said, are advised to stay in their homes and get tested.
He said teachers under quarantine are granted “excused leave with pay.”
“If they are at home isolating, they are considered on leave,” Escobedo said.
Some 14.1 million children and teenagers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the school opening, the DOH said.
Of the figure, some 9.8 million are teenagers ages 12 to 17, while around 4.3 million are kids ages 5 to 11.
Overall, the country is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases despite a slight decline in the 18.1 percent positivity rate for August 7 to 13 from 18.7 percent the week prior.
In other developments:
The Department of Transportation is considering opening more bus stops for the EDSA Busway in preparation for the start of in-person classes. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said they recently opened 2 busway stations in Roxas Boulevard and Macapagal Avenue. “We will still look for other possible bus stops. I had a meeting with the consortium that operates EDSA Carousel, and we asked them to have additional buses, especially during the start of the face-to-face classes on Aug. 22,” he said in a television interview. To date, some 400 units are plying the EDSA Busway, and free rides will continue until Dec. 31.
A legislator from the Bicol region on Monday reminded local government officials to help the Department of Education by taking down quarantine or isolation facilities that they had put up in schools at the height of the pandemic. Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte made the appeal as the DepEd kicked off this week its annual “Oplan Balik Eskwela.”