In-person classes eyed in areas with ‘minimal’ risk
MANILA, Philippines — Once there is “minimal” risk for both students and teachers to contract the new coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) said the government might consider the resumption of in-person classes.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there should be reduced risk of transmission of COVID-19 in communities in the coming months for in-person classes to resume.
“When we come to the point that the risk to health, especially for our kids and the teachers, would be lessened and would just be minimal, we may come to a decision by the IATF (Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) that face-to-face learning can already be resumed,” Vergeire said
Currently, the Department of Education (DepEd) holds classes online to reduce the chances of infection among students and teachers.
Accessibility and connectivity issues, however, marred the first week of classes, as a number of students also had difficulty understanding their lessons under DepEd’s blended learning setup.
Vice President Leni Robredo earlier asked DepEd to consider holding in-person classes in areas where there are no or few cases of COVID-19 due to the education system’s limitations, particularly in far-flung areas.
In the last two weeks, there were only four regions in the country that continue to report new cases in the thousands. These are Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Western Visayas.
From Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, the 13 other regions reported new cases ranging from 145 to 462. In total, the 13 regions reported a combined 3,716 cases last week, or just a little over half of Metro Manila’s 6,774 cases during the same period.
Under the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidance to governments, classes in areas where there are no or sporadic cases of COVID-19 may reopen provided that prevention and control measures against the spread of the virus are implemented.
“Decisions on full or partial closure or reopening should be taken at a local administrative level, based on the local level of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the local risk assessment, as well as how much the reopening of educational settings might increase transmission in the community. Shutting down educational facilities should only be considered when there are no other alternatives,” the WHO said.
On Saturday, an additional 2,249 COVID-19 cases were recorded, pushing the national caseload to 336,926.
Metro Manila reported the most number of new cases, 651, followed by Batangas (139), Iloilo (136), Laguna (128) and Quezon (107).
There are now a total 276,094 COVID-19 survivors with the recovery of 842 more patients.
The death toll, however, climbed to 6,238 as 87 patients succumbed to the severe respiratory disease.
The recoveries and deaths left the country with 54,594 active cases.
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