Why culture of handwashing in schools, communities is a must amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published October 15, 2021, 3:04 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

As it prepares for the pilot of limited face-to-face classes in low risk areas set next month, the Department of Education (DepEd) reiterated the importance of creating a culture of handwashing in schools and communities amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Photo taken in Quezon City last October 2017 (DepEd Public Affairs Service)

Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in a statement issued Friday, Oct. 15, said that even before the pandemic, DepEd has already encouraged handwashing habits for learners through its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools (WinS) program.

“As we embark on piloting face-to-face classes, DepEd recognizes that safe return to school requires in particular, among other measures, observance of handwashing practice,” Briones said.

“Amid the challenges of this pandemic, our commitment to create a culture of handwashing in schools remains strong,” Briones added.

Given this, DepEd called on its partners in the local government and private sector to “support improvement of facilities and sustainability of supplies in schools.”

Global Handwashing Day

In line with celebration of the Global Handwashing Day on Oct. 15, DepEd and Department of Health (DOH) also renewed their commitment to promote handwashing in schools and communities, together with other health measures, to ensure safe school reopening and reduce disease transmission in public settings.

To mark this renewal, DepEd and DOH, in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO, co-convened the 2021 Global Handwashing Day Symposium: “Malinis na Kamay para sa Kinabukasan ng Bayan” to feature good practices on promoting handwashing across schools, communities and workplace settings amid the pandemic.

This year’s joint celebration of the GHD follows the issuance of the first Joint Memorandum Circular between the DepEd and DOH on the “Operational Guidelines on the Implementation of Limited face-to-Face Learning Modality” in support of the piloting of school reopening in 120 schools.

“DOH recognizes the importance of handwashing, not just in the context of the pandemic but in reducing other infections,” said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III in a joint statement.

He added that there is much to gain health-wise in doing the simple act of handwashing with soap. “We at the DOH are committed to promoting proper handwashing behaviors to make it a sustained habit amongst Filipinos,” Duque said.

Related to this, Duque also called on other government agencies, local government units, civil society and private sector partners to also encourage proper handwashing practice across different settings.


DepEd names 59 schools included in pilot run of limited face-to-face classes to start on Nov. 15