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Uphold the safety of teachers and learners. Senator Win Gatchalian made this call following the imposition of Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila and the detection of more cases of the Omicron variant.
While face-to-face classes in basic education are prohibited in areas under Alert Level 3, Gatchalian pointed out that teachers and learners remain vulnerable to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The lawmaker reiterated the need to conduct regular COVID-19 tests on teachers, especially because they continue to report for work despite the lack of face-to-face classes.
To protect learners from infections, Gatchalian said the government should accelerate hitting its COVID-19 vaccination targets in the 12-17 age group. In a Senate panel hearing held on December 17, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that 7.1 million out of 12.7 million minors aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 2.7 million have been fully vaccinated.
The pediatric vaccination of children aged 5 to 11, on the other hand, is set to begin this month. Gatchalian earlier urged local government units to start preparations for the vaccination of 5-to-11-year-olds.
“Sa kabila ng muling pag-akyat ng mga kaso ng COVID-19 at pagkalat ng nakakahawang Omicron variant, patuloy nating dapat ipatupad ang lahat ng hakbang upang protektahan ang ating mga mag-aaral at mga guro upang hindi sila magkasakit,” said the chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
“Kahit na ipagpapaliban muna natin ang face-to-face classes sa Metro Manila, mahalaga pa rin ang pagsasagawa ng regular na COVID-19 tests para sa mga guro upang maiwasan natin ang hawaan sa mga paaralan. Para sa mga mag-aaral naman, magbibigay ang bakuna ng dagdag na proteksyon lalo na kung dumating ang panahong makakabalik na sila sa kanilang mga paaralan,” Gatchalian added.
In areas which remain under Alert Level 2, Gatchalian said schools should continue the strict implementation of mitigation measures such as contact tracing and the installation of adequate sanitation facilities.