Cebu City to resume full in-person classes
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — All schools in this city have been allowed to resume in-person classes for their students, two years after physical learning sessions were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Michael Rama on Wednesday signed Executive Order No. 174 that allowed all educational and training institutions operating within the city to conduct in-person classes at all levels up to their full and safe accommodation capacity.
He, however, urged school administrators to promote the COVID-19 vaccination drive of the government, saying all minimum public health standards should be strictly observed at all times.
The EO, titled “Order Balik Eskwela, Pabakuna Bonanza, ug Ekonomiya Isaka (Return to school order, vaccination bonanza and economic growth)” also encouraged students, teachers and nonteaching staff of schools to get vaccinated.
“All persons are enjoined to carry out a shared responsibility in the maintenance and promotion of a safe and healthy place and environment on the road to full economic recovery,” Rama said.
According to lawyer Colin Rosell, who represents Rama, the EO is effective immediately. Local schools have also been allowed to hold physical commencement exercises.
Salustiano Jimenez, director of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Central Visayas, welcomed the decision of Rama to allow the resumption of in-person classes.
“We are grateful to Mayor Mike for approving our request for face-to-face classes. We also appeal to parents to allow their children to go to school and to observe all the health protocols,” he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Jimenez said about 96 percent of their teachers and non-teaching personnel in Cebu City had been inoculated against COVID-19. Lawyer Joan Largo, assistant vice president for academic affairs of the University of San Carlos, also lauded Rama for issuing the EO.
“It harmonizes the rules to be observed by schools as we prepare for another school year. The CHEd (Commission on Higher Education), for instance, has already issued a memorandum allowing 100-percent capacity for schools in alert level 1 areas like Cebu City,” Largo said.
“With the executive order, schools can now plan for a safe, efficient and effective delivery of instruction this coming academic year,” she added.
Under EO 174, wearing face masks, physical distancing, checking of temperature, frequent hand washing and disinfection, coughing etiquette, and early consultation and reporting of flu-like symptoms must be strictly implemented in schools.
Rama, in his order, said special vaccination days for schools and universities would be conducted to assure a “safe and healthful learning environment” for all stakeholders and for the ease and convenience of all concerned.
School clinics, the mayor said, must be ready to respond to possible cases of COVID-19, especially for patients needing isolation.
Rama also mandated the Cebu City Health Department to adopt a program to attend to the need and safety of the students and all stakeholders, including competent and humane handling of cases, and professional referrals.
The Cebu City Emergency Operation Center was tasked to monitor all schools in their implementation of the health protocols.
Private school administrators earlier visited Rama’s office to relay their unanimous intention to proceed with the full implementation of in-person classes for the school year 2022 to 2023.
Rama said the national government had been firm and consistent in its position that vaccination leading to herd immunity was the way to temper the impact of COVID-19.
Cebu City, he said, has been recognized as a top performer in the national vaccination drive.
“Hence, it is proper to lay a clear direction to guide the stakeholders and the public to sustain the gains, to promote health, enhance economic recovery under the principle of freedom with shared responsibility,” Rama said.
Cebu City has been under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 since March 16.
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