Lawmaker calls for resumption of face-to-face classes

(File photo)

MANILA – A lawmaker on Thursday called on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to consider the resumption of face-to-face classes, specifically from Grade 6 and up, once a significant number of students have already been vaccinated against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo made the statement following the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the use of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for people aged 12 to 17.

“I call on the IATF and the President to immediately consider this as of today, there are only five countries in the world that have not started in-person classes since the pandemic began and that includes us,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo quoted Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan as saying that they are preparing for the resumption of face-to-face classes from Kindergarten to Grade 3 “as advised by medical experts.”

“If the DepEd is saying that face-to-face learning has the imprimatur of the medical experts, then the more vaccinated children should be given the privilege of returning to the old normal of learning, albeit with some adjustment for protection,” Arroyo said.

He said basic protocols, such as using face masks and social distancing, should still be imposed.

He noted that schools should also ensure that all their personnel have gotten their Covid-19 jabs, and make sure that air conditioners should not be turned on during class hours, and just utilize natural ventilation.

“Easing up on face-to-face learning, along with the slow reopening of business establishments would help put us back on track to the old normal,” he said.

The government’s vaccine cluster is mulling the start of pediatric vaccination by the fourth quarter of this year.

Assistant Secretary Wilben Mayor, head of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) sub-task force on current operations, said the NTF has already recommended to the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) the expansion of the vaccination program to children within the last quarter of 2021.

“On the projection, the government, through the vaccine cluster, has already been eyeing for the inoculation of our children especially from ages 12 to 17,” Mayor, who represented vaccine czar and NTF head Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said during a Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture hearing on Wednesday.

The vaccination of the proposed age group, Mayor said, will be highly dependent on the decision of the government’s vaccine expert panel, as well as the availability of the Covid-19 vaccines in the global market.

“Nevertheless, there is already an action on the part of the vaccine cluster to ensure a steady supply of vaccines for September this year,” he said.

“They have already signed the purchase order for 10 million doses of Sinovac [and] the increase of delivery of Pfizer — more or less five million doses, and Moderna, three million doses,” he added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier recommended the vaccination of minors in areas with high risks of community transmission, adding that immunizing children will have to depend on the vaccine supply.

The WHO emphasized the need to prioritize vulnerable sectors such as senior citizens and persons with comorbidities in the Covid-19 vaccination program. (PNA)

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