17,000 classrooms in NCR to be used as COVID-19 isolation areas, quarantine centers

Published August 13, 2020, 3:42 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Thursday confirmed that over 17,000 classrooms in Metro Manila schools will be used as COVID-19 quarantine facilities.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones (Merlina Malipot / MANILA BULLETIN)

Briones, during the virtual press briefing of presidential spokesman Harry Roque, said that DepEd has allowed the use of 50 percent of classrooms in the National Capital Region (NCR) or equivalent to at least 17,910 classrooms as virus isolation and quarantine centers.

“We have agreed, the DepEd, DoH, and the IATF that the classrooms in NCR can be used as isolation centers as well quarantine facilities,” Briones said.

This number, she said, can increase if private schools in Metro Manila will allow their classrooms and facilities to be used for such purposes.

“We’re now working out the numbers with the DoH so we can correlate it with their capacity,” Briones said. “If there are quarantine centers, people are needed to man these facilities and the people from DoH should do the monitoring,” she added.

Briones announced this development less than two weeks before the formal opening of classes for School Year (SY) 2020-2021 on Aug. 24.

School opening, she maintained, will proceed as scheduled since there will be no in-person classes to be conducted. “This has been debated over and over again so I will repeat, there will be no face-to-face classes on Aug. 24, we will use blended learning,” she added.

Briones clarified that not all schools will be used as COVID-19 isolation centers. “We cannot just pick any school because they have to meet the minimum health standards issued by DoH and DepEd,” she explained.

Briones said that it will be the DoH that will decide or recommend which schools will be used as quarantine facilities. Bigger schools, she said, are better options and these should have steady supply of water, among others.

But for the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), the use of 50 percent of classrooms in NCR public schools as COVID-19 facilities “symbolizes” that health is the most important in any society.

“Mas dapat bigyang-prayoridad ang paglaban sa patuloy na lumalalang sitwasyon ng pandemya at krisis na dulot nito sa halip na ipilit ang kulang sa kahandaang pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto 24 (We should be giving priority to combating the worsening situation of the pandemic and the crisis it causes instead of insisting on the lack of readiness to open classes on Aug. 24),” the group added.

Read more: Palace: 50 percent of all NCR public school classrooms to be converted to quarantine facilities