Cities of Cebu, Mandue talk to DepEd to use schools as vaccination sites

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THE Department of Education (DepEd) 7 said they initially received requests from the Cebu City and Mandaue City Governments to use some DepEd schools in their respective cities as vaccination sites.

Salustiano Jimenez, DepEd 7 director, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, said they are still in the process of finalizing their memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the LGUs.

He said the agreement would be similar to when the LGUs have also requested the permission of DepEd to allow some schools to serve as isolation centers.

"We received a letter and then we are finalizing the MOU and it will be forwarded to the Division office because though the authority is given to us, we also have to see to it that the Division offices will look into the possible details," he said.

He said based on what they initially agreed upon, if a school served as an isolation center it will not be used as a vaccination center. The school to be used as a vaccination center should also not be included in those which were part of the first batch of schools recommended by the region to participate in the pilot implementation of the limited face-to-face classes.

He said there will also be agreements about the pre, during, and after usage of the schools.

"We have to look into those schools yet kay atoa man gud tan awn nga kinahanglan ang proximity to other schools. If ever kaning skwelahana gamiton, adto sila mo stay sa lain (near) na school (temporarily)," he said.

He, however, said only a few schools in the region are now still being used as isolation facilities.

As to the vaccination of teachers and non-teaching personnel of DepEd 7, Jimenez said he already received inquiries from teachers on when they will be vaccinated, which, he said, somehow, shows that teachers show interest to receive Covid-19 vaccination.

He said the DepEd central office conducted an initial survey to get a sample of the teachers' decision, at that time, regarding Covid-19 vaccination. Of the surveyed, majority, he said, expressed willingness to be vaccinated while about 30 to 40 percent of such are still undecided during that time.

Jimenez said before surveying the regional level, they are now focusing first on information dissemination or awareness campaign to increase vaccine confidence as they target to achieve 100 percent coverage when they start their vaccination.

"Our regional office started initially (survey), but we stopped it because what's in our mind is what we need is more advocacy on this," he said.

Based on their data, DepEd 7 has a total of 82,000 teaching and non-teaching personnel. Of which, around 79,000 are teachers.

According to the Department of Health (DOH) 7, the priority groupings for the vaccination deployment program of the government is as follows: workers in the front line health services, followed by senior citizens, persons with comorbidities (regardless of age), frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel, followed by the indigent population, other frontline workers and special population, and the rest of the population.

Jimenez said based on the initial information they gathered from select teachers, they are most inclined to receive the Sinovac vaccine.

Jimenez also said, he, is also "very willing" to be vaccinated.

He said as regional directors of government offices, they are also part of those prioritized in vaccination, he said, he is set to receive the vaccine in the coming days as he is just waiting for a clearance from his doctor.

He said, as of now or based on their latest discussion, vaccination of teachers is not yet a pre-requisite for them to return to face-to-face classes.

"To be vaccinated, I would just like to emphasize that it's voluntary," he said.

"But for me, personally, being a public servant and frontliners, kung muatubang ta sa atong mga bata, it is also our obligation to the community that we need to be protected. That we need to protect also others through this vaccination," he added.

He said as of now, they submitted a total of 50 basic education schools in Central Visayas to be part of the pilot implementation of the limited face-to-face classes.

These schools, he said, are compliant to the requirements such as resolution, allowing the conduct of such, from concerned LGUs, parents-teachers association, and parents themselves and including the physical readiness of the schools.

These include 13 schools in Negros Oriental Division, Bayawan-six; 12 in Cebu Province Division, Bogo City-six; Carcar City-six, and Toledo among others.

DepEd 7 did not endorse schools from Naga City Division and the the Divisions of Mandaue City, Lapu Lapu City, and Cebu City.

Jimenez, however, said there is no specific date as to when the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes will start.

"Kasagaran sa atong giapil sa pilot, ang ilang estudyante gamay ra. Naa ray 29 or 35 oer class," he said.(WBS)