Malacañang on Wednesday said at least 50 percent of public schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) would be converted into isolation centers for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed this after earlier disclosing that Education Secretary Leonor Briones had allowed the use of school facilities to isolate COVID-19 patients.
“The Palace confirms that 50 percent of public school classrooms in the National Capital Region will be used as temporary quarantine facilities as negotiated and agreed (to) by both the Department of Education and the Department of Health,” Roque said in a statement.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Roque said Briones allowed the use of school facilities since face-to-face classes remained prohibited until a vaccine against COVID-19 was developed.
“Secretary Briones agreed to use public schools until December 31 while our students are prohibited from having face-to-face classes,” he said.
Roque noted that the use of public schools as isolation centers would augment the facilities being built by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“Besides the structures being built by Secretary Villar, our Isolation Czar, there are also public schools that will serve as isolation facilities in the barangay level),” he said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
He emphasized the importance of mild and asymptomatic patients subjecting themselves to facility-based quarantine especially if they did not have their own rooms and bathrooms.
The Department of Education (DepEd) scheduled the school opening on
Aug. 24, 2020 and the end of the school year on April 30, 2021.
DepEd said only local government units and schools classified by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) as “low risk” would be allowed to implement limited face-to-face classes.
However, senators urged the agency to postpone the scheduled class opening to October amid challenges of blended and distance learning.
Blended and distance learning strategies involve the use of TV and radio-based instruction as well as modular and online learning.
On July 17, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11480, which allows the President, upon the recommendation of the Education Secretary, to set a different date for the start of the school year in the country in case of a state of emergency or state of calamity.
Duterte has yet to decide whether he would postpone the scheduled school opening.