The Department of Education (DepEd) will disburse a one-time cash allowance of P5,000 to all teachers during the opening of classes on Aug. 22.
DepEd spokesman Michael Poa said at a press conference that the allowance was aimed at helping teachers return to school.
“All teachers will get that. I think it will be downloaded to school divisions. I’ll confirm but everyone will get their P5,000 cash allowance by August 22,” Poa said.
Aside from the allowance, Poa said schools nationwide would receive supplemental Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) worth P3.7 billion in total to prepare for the incoming face-to-face classes.
“This is to ensure that they have the complete tools), especially for the minimum health and safety standards to be observed like alcohol.
It’s not specifically to ask them to buy face masks. That’s not for it. It’s really for the MOOE. We’re giving them the flexibility to buy whatever they need,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) said it will expand the distribution of PagbaBago bags containing school supplies and hygiene kits to more areas.
“That’s our plan. As long as we have resources that we can distribute, especially in areas that really need school supplies and hygiene kits, we will expand the operation,” said OVP spokesman Reynold Munsayac, speaking in Filipino.
The DepEd said Friday that with three days before the start of classes, only 19 percent of students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Poa said the low figure is largely due to the voluntary nature of the government’s vaccination program against COVID-19.
“Of course, we would like to have a 100 percent vaccination rate, but the truth of the matter is the vaccination program of the government is not mandatory,” he said.
On the other hand, the vaccination rate among teaching and non-teaching personnel is at 92 percent, Poa said.
The DepEd earlier said it will conduct mobile vaccination in schools to increase the vaccination rate among children.
Poa, however, said such an effort will still be coupled with counseling to encourage kids to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I cannot give you an exact timeline, but we are coordinating this effort with the Department of Health,” he said.
Poa also said the DepEd will be issuing a department order on a COVID-19 infection containment strategy considering the resumption of face-to-face classes.
“This will address isolation or quarantine requirements in the event somebody tests positive for COVID-19 while in the classroom,” he said.
At least 27 million learners have enrolled for the school year 2022 to 2023.
Vice President Sara Duterte, who is concurrently Education secretary, said the DepEd was ready for the opening of classes on Aug. 299.
Facing the Senate committee on basic education chaired by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. Duterte conceded that the problems confronting the Education department since last year have remained.
“But we won’t stop looking for solutions to the problems for the next six years,” she said.
“With all your help in the Senate, I think we would be able to turn around the quality of basic education in our country in the next six years,” she added.
As part of the transition to in-person classes, blended learning will still be implemented and the department is considering it as a permanent mode of instruction for basic education, she said.
However, Duterte said she expects five days of full implementation of in-person classes for all public and private schools by Nov. 2.
Senator Pia Cayetano told Duterte that the Senate allotted P2.6 billion to cover the expenses of implementing face-to-face classes.
She said they also set aside an additional P100 million for public school health facilities.
At the same meeting, Senator Robin Padilla urged the DepEd and the Department of Health to ensure the health of children not just against COVID-19 but also against dengue and other rainy-day diseases.
“As our young learners start going to school, our concern is not just their education but also their safety,” Padilla said at the hearing of the Senate committee on basic education.