Wearing face masks in Central Visayas schools still mandatory – DepEd
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — While local governments in Cebu have allowed the optional use of face masks in open spaces, the Department of Education (DepEd) in Central Visayas said students and teachers are still required to wear face masks within school premises in the region.
Dr. Salustiano Jimenez, regional director of the DepEd, said the use of masks remains mandatory in all public schools in Central Visayas, as it provides additional protection to both teachers and children.
The order, he said, applies for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
“There’s no discrimination here. That has been our protocol and we don’t want to scare our parents and learners. Using face masks can prevent not only COVID-19, but other viruses as well,” said Jimenez in a media interview on Friday.
Jimenez said there were no new COVID-19 infections among teachers, learners and nonteaching personnel in Central Visayas since the start of in-person classes last Aug. 22.
But it would not mean they would now relax the masking policy inside the school premises.
“We have to continue observing these protocols in school,” he added.
Not yet time
Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire, officer in charge of the Department of Health (DOH), earlier encouraged the continued use of face masks despite the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for its voluntary use outdoors.
Children, she said, were among those considered as members of the vulnerable sector.
Last Sept. 7, the IATF recommended the optional wearing of face masks when outdoors as the country transitions to the new normal.
Vergeire, however, urged the public to continue wearing face masks, whether these are required or not, saying it is still the best way to protect oneself against COVID-19.
Before the IATF relaxed the mask mandate, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama had already ordered the optional use of face masks in open and well-ventilated areas.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the DOH in Central Visayas, said they would continue to promote the minimum health standards to prevent COVID-19 but were not against the decision of local chief executives to make the wearing of masks optional in open spaces.
“Giving people the liberty to wear a mask or not is based on their knowledge. We, in the health sector, promote when to wear and when not to wear masks,” he explained on Friday.
Get booster shots
At present, Bernadas said Central Visayas has an average of 20 to 70 new COVID-19 cases per day.
As of Sept. 30, the total cumulative number of active COVID-19 cases in the region was down to 700, he added.
Bernadas said the number of recoveries was even higher than the number of new cases daily.
The regional offices of the DOH and the DepEd have been campaigning for the PinasLakas, a 100-day nationwide booster vaccination campaign, which is set to end on Oct. 8.
The Marcos administration has been emphasizing the need to strengthen the country’s vaccination booster programs for a more “health-conscious and safer country.”
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