Kids must be vaxxed to join in-person classes in Abra, Kalinga
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — Schools in the Cordillera resumed in-person classes for elementary and high school students on March 3, but the provinces of Abra and Kalinga have required only fully vaccinated pupils to participate.
Out of 430,924 students enrolled for the school year 2021-2022 in the region, only 85,775 managed to return to their schools, data from the Department of Education (DepEd) showed.
Unlike colleges and universities, most grade schools and high schools have not imposed the vaccine requirement on their students because the vaccination rollout has just started for children 5 to 11 years old. Pediatric vaccination for children 12 to 17 years old started last year and has yet to be completed in some towns.
Benilda Daytaca, Abra schools superintendent, said more than 50 schools were recommended and cleared for in-person classes, only to be cut down to five high schools where 80 percent of enrolled students have been fully vaccinated following guidelines issued recently by Gov. Maria Jocelyn Bernos.
Bernos directed the province’s 28 mayors and DepEd to make sure only inoculated pupils and teachers would take part in physical sessions, Daytaca said at the agency’s briefing in Benguet’s capital town of La Trinidad on Tuesday.
“I met with the province’s legal officer and was told that the governor opted to ensure all Abra students are safe,” Daytaca said.
She did not provide the total number of pupils affected by the order nor how many children have been fully vaccinated in the province. But 142 students are currently attending in-person classes in five schools.
Kalinga Gov. Ferdinand Tubban is also preparing to issue a similar order following a March 5 meeting with DepEd, said Jerry Ymson, the province’s assistant schools superintendent.
Tubban had warned that he would bar all unvaccinated students and teachers from the government’s expanded in-person classes.
Government data showed that 18 of 58 schools that were nominated to hold in-person classes had been teaching 1,187 elementary pupils, 185 students in junior high school and 60 students in senior high school since March 3.Tabuk City recommended 86 schools, and 35 of these opened in-person classes to 3,185 students.
Kalinga is ready to launch another round of vaccination drive, but it is not clear if students will be required to take the jab.
Mountain Province has the largest number of schools holding in-person classes in the region.
Sally Ullalim, Mountain Province schools superintendent, said 267 schools were cleared and 248 of these had resumed in-person classes.
Ullalim said 14 elementary schools and five high schools in Besao town were waiting for permission to start due to COVID-19 concerns from the local pandemic task force.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.