Teachers in ‘graduation’ mask-sharing probed
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — A viral video featuring pupils and their parents in what seemed like a graduation ceremony at a small village in Camarines Norte’s capital town of Daet is now being investigated by the Department of Education (DepEd) for possible breach of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols.
A source, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to the media, confirmed that the video showing children being made to share a single face mask for their “graduation” photo happened at a makeshift graduation shed in Dogongan village.
The source, a DepEd local employee, said the department’s provincial office had directed the school’s principal to explain the incident in writing.
Several medical frontliners, who forwarded the video to DepEd provincial officials, have started tracing the people in the video because of the health risks involved in making the children wear the same face masks at a time when everyone was supposed to seriously abide by the health protocols related to COVID-19, the source said.
As of this writing, Daet has no case of COVID-19. Like the rest of the Bicol region, the town has been under modified general community quarantine since June 1.
In the video, at least three students who donned white togas were made to stand one by one in front of a tarpaulin as a graduation march song played.
A woman was orchestrating the event. She posed with the first boy, who was wearing a face mask, for the photo with the boy holding what looked like a graduation certificate.
The tarpaulin in the background for the photo session read “Daet North District, Dogongan Elementary School, 58th Graduation Exercise” with the time of 8:30 a.m. and date of June 10, 2020.
Instead of leading the boy out with his mask on, the woman asked him to remove the mask to be passed on and worn by the next “graduate.” After the second pupil’s photo was taken, she removed the mask and placed it on the face of the next pupil waiting to be photographed.
“We got to know that they are indeed from that particular place, but it did not happen at the school,” the source said.
Schools superintendent Nympha Guemo had already talked to the school’s principal and asked for an incident report, the source said. The report was expected to be submitted on Monday.
Dogongan Elementary School is a small public school on the outskirts of Daet, the source said.
Initial investigation also showed that the video was not from the actual commencement exercise.
“The graduation was held way before. This was just a pictorial. A parent may have requested this to be held in a certain zone in Dogongan,” the source said.
The date the video was taken is still being determined. The video, which was posted on social media, became widely shared on Sunday, but it has since been deleted by the person who originally posted the video.
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