Students urged to wear masks on first week of full F2F classes

THE Department of Education Central Visayas (DepEd 7) has encouraged the wearing of face masks in schools for the first week of the full implementation of face-to-face classes nationwide, which started on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

DepEd 7 Director Salustiano Jimenez said this is to prevent a surge in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, particularly in highly urbanized cities, which have large populations.

He said students just had a long weekend for the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day observance and may have been exposed to the disease.

“For example, they could have gone from one cemetery to another... We don’t want that the spread would come from our schools. So we have to be careful,” he said Wednesday.

Jimenez clarified that mask wearing is no longer mandatory in schools.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order 7 last Oct. 28 making mask wearing optional indoors and outdoors, which was adopted by Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte for the education sector.

Mask wearing remains mandatory only in healthcare facilities, medical transport vehicles, and public transportation.

Jimenez said the DepEd 7 has no record of any student or teacher testing positive for Covid-19 since School Year 2022-2023 started in August.

He urged students and teachers not to attend school if they have flu-like symptoms such as fever and cough, or if they have a cold, which could have been caused by adverse weather conditions.

Jimenez said parents of sick students absent for more than a day could go directly to the school to ask for activity sheets and modules to ensure that their children would not fall behind in their lessons.

He said the children can return to school once they are fully recovered and they won’t have to present a medical certificate.

“We trust parents and students enough that they would not lie about their children’s absence and take advantage of this,” he said.

Jimenez said he also instructed schools to provide temporary isolation rooms, alcohol, handwashing areas and other sanitary essentials to ensure health safety.

Students returned to schools on Nov. 2 for full face-to-face classes following a two-year break in in-person classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.