The Department of Education (DepEd) released a guideline on Tuesday as a preventive measure of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV ARD) in basic education schools and offices, after taking a cue from the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The first thing we teach in the Department of Education in compliance with laws and regulations so all of these [preventive measures against 2019-nCoV] have been considered. We have now a compilation of all issuances of the WHO, the Department of Health, and the Office of the President as a guide for our teachers and learners,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.
DepEd issued Department Memorandum 15, s. 2020, stating the first set of policy directives of Task Force nCoV, which includes postponing all national and regional activities involving learners and/or teachers for the month of February.
The National Science and Technology Fair (NSTF) in Quezon City on February 10-14, National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Cagayan and National Festival of Talent (NFOT) in Isabela on February 17-21 were some of the postponed events as part of the preventive measures. Palarong Pambansa, however, is not included in the list of affected activities since it will officially open by May of this year.
The Department will evaluate the suspensions of the activities to assess the reaffirmation or revocation of the suspension, depending on the development of the situation and upon the advice of DOH.
In addition, DepEd also discouraged all division and district activities that involve the gathering/congregation of various schools, and advised the organizers to seek the recommendation of local health authorities should the activities push through.
Personnel and learners exhibiting respiratory infections were also advised not to attend activities that involve the congregation of learners within the school while off-campus activities as defined in DepEd Order No. 66, s. 2017 (Implementing Guidelines on the Conduct of Off-Campus Activities) were also suspended.
Travel limitations and restrictions
The DepEd memorandum also delineated travel limitations and restrictions of all DepEd personnel and learners.
Official travels previously approved by the Secretary for the month of February to countries (the latest list of countries with confirmed cases is accessible in the WHO’s site https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports) identified to have confirmed cases or persons under investigation for nCoV are also revoked. All DepEd personnel and learners with approved personal travels to the same countries are highly advised not to proceed.
Personnel and learners coming from travel abroad, meanwhile, must comply with the prescribed quarantine procedures of proper government authorities before returning to work or school.
Public information and awareness campaigns
Classroom discussions are also encouraged to tackle the nature of the 2019-nCoV ARD, ways of transmission, signs and symptoms, and precautionary measures such as regular handwashing, maintaining healthy lifestyles, ensuring food safety and consulting a physician when symptoms attributable to respiratory infection.
Official collaterals for display in schools and offices containing these key messages (sample is attached) may be downloaded at https://www.deped.gov.ph/stopncov. Editable files are available for translation to local languages and dialects.
The Department also enjoined all offices and schools to use and share only verified and up-to-date information from reliable and official sources such as the WHO via https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 and the DOH via https://www.doh.gov.ph/2019-nCoV.
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