DepEd: Use of schools as vaccination centers should be planned well

Published January 26, 2021, 8:48 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday cautioned on the use of public schools as vaccination centers for the COVID-19 vaccination program – especially those that are already being used as quarantine facilities.

Sec. Leonor Briones

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the Department of Health (DOH) sought the assistance of DepEd to provide space for vaccination centers.

 “Clinics or classrooms can be made available but this has to be planned carefully because there are schools that have big clinics while others have very small ones,” she said in Filipino during the Laging Handa Public Briefing.

Briones explained that the use of school facilities such as classrooms and clinics should be “contextualized” based on the situation of the schools. “If the school is being used as a COVID-19 quarantine center, we should think twice before using it as a vaccination center especially if there is only one campus or if the entrance or exit is the same,” she added.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), Briones said, also suggested the use of school facilities such as clinics as vaccination sites. However, she noted that choosing schools for this purpose should be on a case-to-case basis.

“There are clinics that are very near the classrooms and there are also very small ones so this has to be considered very carefully,” Briones said. Based on the presentation of DOH, there are requirements for the anticipated vaccination centers.

“A big space is really needed for social distancing and waiting,” Briones said. “Not all schools have that kind of facility,” she added.

Earlier, Pasig City said that its schools could be good venues for vaccination only if allowed by DepEd. Briones said that many schools in the city have good features and facilities. “If they are ready, we can consider this,” she added.

In the meantime, Briones said that discussions on the possible use public school facilities as vaccination centers are still ongoing. “We’re discussing this and we’re doing this as rationally as possible because everybody wants to help but we cannot say that generally, all clinics or schools can be used because this might create a bigger problem,” she ended.