HOLDING face-to-face classes may be a good sign that the country is slowly recovering from the pandemic, but the Department of Education (DepEd) should make sure teachers must be vaccinated first.
Former Sen. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. strongly suggested that Dep-Ed should refrain from proceeding with its proposed policy of not making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for the teaching and non-teaching personnel of schools that would participate in the pilot-testing of face-to-face classes.
“I think there is a need to take a second look at that policy. Simply because in other countries, ang experiences nila was that there were risks involved in having non-vaccinated teachers and staff when they went back to face-to-face classes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that at least we are trying to start face-to-face classes. It is actually good news because that is a very good sign that, somehow, we are slowly going back to normalcy,” he said.
Marcos also noted that unlike last year, when children and teenagers were not so vulnerable to the previous strains of the virus, but with the highly infectious Delta variant now being the dominant variant worldwide, in the Philippines there are already thousands of children in the age range four and below to 19 who have been infected with Covid.
According to data from the Department of Health, there were 38,825 Covid cases among children aged four years old and below; 40,286 among children between five years old and nine years old; 54,847 among children who are 10 to 14 years old; and 82,434 among teenagers between 15 and 19 years old.
The former lawmaker pointed out that with children below 18 still not included in the national vaccination program’s priority tiers, they will be even more vulnerable when coming in contact with unvaccinated teachers and non-teaching personnel in the schools.
“Kung ‘yung findings noong isang taon hindi masyadong naapektuhan ang mga bata, hindi masyadong tinatamaan ang mga teenager, iba na itong Delta variant. Mas highly infectious itong variant na ito. Ngayon, marami nang mga bata, mga teenager at pati mga sanggol na nahawaan. Kaya ‘yung mga teachers, I believe they should be vaccinated because they are exposed to so many people and then they are exposed to children, students, young people na hindi pa nasisimulang bakunahan,” he said.
Reiterating his earlier call to include teachers and the DepEd’s non-teaching personnel in the list of priorities for vaccination, Marcos proposed allocating a portion of the vaccines that are expected to be completely delivered in several batches by the end of October, for the vaccination of teachers.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier disclosed that around 41.5 million doses of Covid vaccines are expected to arrive in the remaining week of September and in October, which would allow the country to have a total vaccine supply count of 100 million.