DepEd: Schools with infra projects may ‘decline’ requests to be used as COVID-19 facilities

Published July 19, 2021, 1:05 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday, July 19, said that it has issued regulations on use of schools as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) isolation areas or vaccination centers to give way to infrastructure projects.

Photo shows Lawang Bato National High School, Valenzuela City taken on March 4, 2021. (DepEd Public Affairs Service)

“The pandemic did not hamper our mission to provide conducive and motivating facilities,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.

The issuance of the regulations on the use of schools as isolation areas to give way to infrastructure projects, DepEd said, aims to guarantee that improvement of education facilities will continue amidst the health crisis.

“Our infrastructure projects remain a priority to help our stakeholders, especially teachers, to have a comfortable place to work in,” Briones explained.

In a memorandum sent to officials and school heads, the DepEd directed recipient schools of the infrastructure projects to politely decline requests for their schools to be used as isolation facilities.

“However, if the recipient school is currently being used as an isolation area, two courses of action may be taken,” DepEd said.

DepEd noted “if the school is large enough to segregate the isolation area and the construction site, the school can still house the isolation facility provided that barriers are in place.”

Also, DepEd noted that if the school has a limited area to cater to both the isolation facility and the construction of school buildings, “it must coordinate with the Local Government Unit (LGU) and request the immediate transfer of the isolation facility to a nearby school that is not a recipient of infrastructure projects.”

Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Administration and DepEd Task Force COVID-19 Chair Alain Del B. Pascua maintained that the department remains “one with the national effort” to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases and hopefully putting an end to the pandemic.

“However, we must also ensure that the needs of learners are met, including the establishment of adequate, safe, and conducive learning facilities, as mandated” Pascua said.

DepEd said that it is expecting infrastructure projects to start in the third quarter of 2021 – which will require the use of the school premises for the construction or repair of school buildings. “Thus, schools may cite this reason for declining requests,” it added.

With cash-based budgeting in place, DepEd stressed that these projects need to be completed by the end of 2021 to avoid the lapsing of funds.

Several LGUs, DepEd said, are currently using some schools as isolation facilities and vaccination sites, as part of the Department’s full cooperation with other government agencies on the measures related to the mobilization of resources to combat the COVID-19 threat.

During the “Laging Handa” public briefing on July 19, Pascua said that the DepEd has yet to gather the numbers as to how many schools are currently being used as COVID-19 isolation centers and vaccination centers.