At least after five teachers tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Zambales prompting two schools to delay the implementation of pilot face-to-face classes on Monday, Nov. 15.
In a phone interview, Assistant Schools Division Superintendent (ASDS) of Schools Division Office (SDO) Zambales Michelle Mejica told the Manila Bulletin that the pilot face-to-face classes in these schools are “temporarily delayed” until the confirmatory test results of the teachers come in.
“Prior sa pag-akyat nila today, nagpa-test sila kahapon. Unfortunately, may mga teachers tayo sa San Marcelino at Baliwet na nag-positive sa RAT [Rapid Antigen Test],”
“Prior going up [the mountain] today, they took a test yesterday. Unfortunately, we have teachers in San Marcelino and Baliwet who tested positive for RAT [Rapid Antigen Test],” Mejica said.
In Zambales, Mejica said that there were 10 schools identified by DepEd to participate in the pilot run, most of which are Indigenous People (IP) schools. These include Burgos Elementary School (ES), Owaog-Nebloc ES, Moraza ES, Belbel ES, Maguisguis Integrated School (IS), Nacolcol IS, Palis IS, Baliwet ES, San Marcelino National High School (NHS), and Banawen ES.
While undergoing COVID testing is not a requirement of DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH) for face-to-face classes, Mejica said that the local government unit (LGU) “offered” it to its teachers who will participate in the pilot face-to-face classes.
Mejica said that two teachers in San Marcelino NHS and three teachers in Baliwen tested positive for COVID-19 based on the RAT. They are waiting for the confirmatory test results based on the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
“While waiting for their confirmatory tests, nakalagay din kasi na contingency iyon, na ide-delay natin yung klase sa mga schools na iyon (it is also stated in the contingency [plan], that we will delay the class in those schools),” Mejica said.
“Up until cleared na sila, itong dalawang schools na ito, dun pa mag-sisimula yung face-to-face classes (Up until then two schools are cleared, it is only then the face-to-face classes will begin),” she added.
Mejica said that the five teachers who tested positive for COVID-19 are all asymptomatic.
“They have no symptoms, so far and we are praying that they get negative results in the RT-PCR so we can push through with the face-to-face classes because our learners are excited too,” she explained in a mix of English and Filipino.
The results of the confirmatory tests, Mejica said, are expected to come in either Wednesday, Nov. 17 or Thursday, Nov. 18. “We’re trying to work out if we can get it faster, probably tomorrow (Nov. 16) and we’re coordinating with the LGU,” she said.
Baliwet ES has 28 learners and five teachers who will participate in the pilot face-to-face classes. San Marcelino NHS, on the other hand, has nine learners and four teachers who are also scheduled to join the limited in-person classes on a pilot basis.
In SDO Zambales, Mejica said that there are 75 teachers who will participate in the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes. All of them have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A total of 628 students are also included in the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes.
Mejica said that Banawen ES also decided to postpone the first day of face-to-face classes.
While there were teachers who tested positive for COVID-19 in the school, the DepEd, health and local officials deemed it was necessary to ask the teachers to retake COVID-19 testing as a precautionary measure.