To help accelerate the expansion of in-person classes nationwide, Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to proactively participate in pediatric vaccination against COVID-19.
In Executive Order No. 166 s. 2022, which adopts the Ten-Point Policy Agenda on Economic Recovery, the acceleration and expansion of the vaccination program and the resumption of in-person learning were identified as priorities. Gatchalian has been calling for the opening of all schools for limited face-to-face classes, citing both economic benefits and the urgency of addressing the impact of school closures.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture expressed concern that only 736,143 children aged five to 11 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of March 25 as reported by the Department of Health (DOH) while it aims to inoculate 15.56 million children in this age group. Only around 1.8 million from the same age group have received their first dose. For the adolescent population or those in the 12-17 age group, 8.9 million are already fully vaccinated.
Gatchalian has been seeking the involvement of schools in the COVID-19 vaccination of the pediatric population. According to the lawmaker, this would lead to easier identification, organization, and monitoring of learners who are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
“Kung mababakunahan natin ang ating mga kabataan laban sa COVID-19, hindi lamang natin matitiyak ang ligtas nilang pagbabalik sa face-to-face classes. Makatutulong din ito sa muling pagbangon ng sektor ng edukasyon at ng buong ekonomiya ng ating bansa,” said Gatchalian.
As of March 22, there are 14,396 public and private schools that are nominated for the progressive expansion of limited face-to-face classes. There are 10,196 schools, including 212 private schools, participating in limited in-person learning.
Some of the nominated schools that have not started face-to-face classes are yet to receive concurrence from their respective local government units (LGUs), which is one of the requirements for conducting limited face-to-face classes. Gatchalian earlier called on LGUs to give schools the green light to participate in face-to-face classes, a move that he says would accelerate the opening of more schools for in-person learning.
The DepEd and the DOH will soon be releasing the new guidelines that ease requirements on the opening of limited face-to-face classes.