A former medical advisor to the government on Monday said the Department of Education (DepEd) should release data on the number of COVID-19 infections in public schools, which are set to resume full in-person classes by Nov. 2.
In an online press conference, Dr. Tony Leachon said DepEd should be transparent with the data, which could help schools and their communities respond better if there is a COVID-19 outbreak.
“I think for the safety of the kids, we need to be transparent about our data,” said Leachon, former adviser to the government’s task force against COVID-19.
Senator Christopher Go also urged school officials and the government to provide and properly implement health guidelines to ensure the protection of students.
“Let’s implement additional safety measures. Let us assign staff or safety personnel to immediately attend to a student, teacher or school personnel who will be found positive for the virus,” said Go.
Earlier, a DepEd spokesperson said it was up to local governments to issue data on COVID-19 in schools, adding that the department did not want to give conflicting figures.
Beginning Nov. 2, all public schools must return to five days of in-person classes.
At the same time, a group called on the Education and Health departments to issue detailed guidelines on ventilation and adopt a tool to measure the risk of COVID-19 infections in classrooms.
“The Aral Pilipinas Coalition is calling on the Department of Education and the Department of Health to come up with a clear policythat can be used by parents and teachers to protect the children,” the group said in Filipino.
Aral Pilipinas also pushed for the use of the “Safe Schools Calculator,” developed in collaboration with Joshua Agar, a wind engineer and professor at the University of the Philippines.
The tool can compute data on carbon dioxide (CO2) levels inside classrooms to help determine if it is poorly or well-ventilated.
An independent research group, meanwhile, said the seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) has decreased further to 12.3 percent from the previous 14.9 percent.
The OCTA Research Group said, however, that seven areas—Cagayan, Iloilo, Isabela, La Union, Misamis Oriental, Pangasinan and Tarlac–showed a high level increase in the positivity rate during the same period.
From Oct. 10-16, the Philippines recorded 15,314 COVID-19 cases, or an average of 2,188 daily infections. This was 7 percent higher compared to the previous week.
This was also the eight straight week that weekly cases were below 20,000.
As of Oct. 19, over 73.4 million people in the country were fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease, the DOH said.
Of the figure, about 20.3 million have received their first booster dose.