By Nino Luces
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – The top official of the Department of Education (DepEd) regional office here announced on Thursday that he is allowing local government units (LGUs) to use public schools as quarantine areas for persons under monitoring (PUMs).
DepEd-Bicol Director Gilbert Sadsad said he has already granted the request of some LGUs to utilize schools as temporary shelters for PUMs who come from areas with confirmed case of COVID-19, especially Metro Manila.
Since the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and the total lockdowns in some provinces of Bicol were imposed, hundreds of Bicolanos have gone back to their hometowns, some traveling by foot and being stranded at the borders for days.
A recommendation was then made to quarantine them for 14 days before allowing them to return to their families.
“We are facing a crisis. We need to be supporting each other, together with the other agencies and the LGUs,” Sadsad said.
“The issuance of the Office Memorandum 2020-004 by Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones allows the regional directors, per recommendation of the schools division superintendent, [and] with proper coordination of the school heads to the requesting LGU and DOH (Department of Health), to approve the utilization of schools and facilities as isolation areas for PUMs,” he added.
Sadsad said that since the start of the ECQ in Luzon, LGUs have been requesting for the temporary use of schools as quarantine or isolation areas due to the lack of facilities in their communities.
“Presently, there are already 39 schools around Bicol, mostly in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Albay, being requested by the LGUs, 36 of which are now being utilized as quarantine areas. These schools are now being occupied by 630 individuals who will stay until the end of the required 14-day quarantine,” he explained.
However, DepEd will not automatically approve requests from LGUs since they will still strictly follow the guidelines as stated in the DepEd memorandum, such as the setting forth of terms and conditions on the use of DepEd schools as isolation facilities for COVID response and ensuring their proper disinfection after use, Sadsad emphasized.
Schools may also be used if there are no other facilities in the locality that are available as isolation areas for PUMs.
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