MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Friday said it is willing to convert public schools into quarantine facilities, in case the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) situation worsens in the country.
During the “Laging Handa” public briefing, Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said the request of local government units (LGUs) to use schools for quarantine purposes will be subject to the approval of DepEd regional directors.
“At kung sakali pong eskwelahan ang mapipili, may mga regulasyon po tayo or mga condition na ito naman ay naaayon sa Department of Health’s requirements (In case the schools are tapped as quarantine facilities, we have regulations and conditions that are in accordance with the Department of Health’s requirements),” Sevilla said.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in a March 26 memorandum, said the DepEd is ready to render full assistance and cooperation, as well as mobilize the necessary resources to undertake “critical, urgent, and appropriate” responses to curtail Covid-19 threat.
Briones’ statement came amid the growing number of requests by LGUs to use public schools for quarantine or isolation purposes as part of the government’s response to Covid-19.
Under the DepEd memorandum, DepEd regional directors are given the authority to “approve or deny” LGUs’ request to transform educational facilities into quarantine areas.
“Schools can be recommended only when no other facilities are available,” according to the memorandum.
The LGUs are required to identify the particular school facility that will be used for isolation purposes, as well as the duration of its use.
They must present an assessment by the municipal, city, or provincial health officer that the school facility is suitable for quarantine purposes.
They must also provide planned management of the school facility, which must conform to the existing DOH standard guidelines, which include “patient management, safety standards within the facility and immediate community, waste management/ disposal, and other similar/ related health requirements.”
LGUs are likewise mandated to pay expenses related to the setting-up, operation and clearing of school facilities used to accommodate individuals who are possible carriers of Covid-19.
“When a request is granted by the Regional Director based on the recommendation by the concerned Schools Division Superintendent, the school heads must coordinate with the LGU on the (needed) preparations before actual use of the facility for the (quarantine) purpose,” the memorandum read.
The DOH reported Friday that the Philippines now has 803 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Sevilla said DepEd would ensure that the schools converted into quarantine facilities would be “safe and secured” when classes resume.
“Amin din pong po-proteksyunan ang ating mga mag-aaral at mga guro, at syempre, ang komunidad na malapit dito (We will protect the students and teachers, as well as the community near the schools),” she said. (PNA)