The Philippine Star

Galvez: Face-to-face classes OK for medical schools

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The chief implemente­r of the government’s COVID- 19 policies yesterday expressed support for holding face- toface classes in medical schools, citing the need for more health workers in the fight against the pandemic.

National Task Force Against COVID- 19 chief implemente­r Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. cited the Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela, which he said is reconfigur­ing its schools so they can be prepared for face-toface learning sessions.

Galvez visited the university last Tuesday.

“It’s good to resume face-toface classes in medical schools

and medical courses to provide relief to our health workers,” Galvez said in English and Filipino at a televised press briefing.

“It is also possible for courses that have to do with essential services,” he added.

Galvez, however, clarified that the resumption of faceto-face classes would be approved on a case-to-case basis and that no educationa­l institutio­n would be allowed to hold face-to-face sessions without the approval of authoritie­s.

“What we will do is we will inspect the facility so that there is a third party that will really validate if they follow the minimum health standard and the re- engineerin­g and reconfigur­ation are in line with the minimum health standard protocols set by the DOH ( Department of Health),” he said.

The Holy Angel University in Pampanga, according to Galvez, has also been preparing for on-site learning.

He said the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) would also coordinate with the Department of Education to discuss the possible resumption of on-site learning in other educationa­l institutio­ns.

With about 16 million basic education students, the Philippine­s, he said, would face difficulti­es if they become supersprea­ders of the virus.

“There are courses that require experienti­al learning or face-to-face. So we will find ways, we will see, we will coordinate with (Education) Secretary (Leonor) Briones on how we could really expedite and look at the possibilit­y of having a reconfigur­ation of different schools so that we can really follow and obey the minimum health standard,” Galvez said.

“There are studies suggesting that children can become super spreaders. We can’t be complacent yet and our figures are not yet irreversib­le,” he added.

The IATF would evaluate the country’s post-holiday COVID-19 figures, according to Galvez.

“We are very lenient in MGCQ ( modified general community quarantine) areas and we will see if we can have simulation­s this coming January,” he said.

Ban remains

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday said the prohibitio­n on face- to- face classes remains as directed by President Duterte, although the DOH and DepEd are ready to formulate guidelines in case face-to-face classes will be allowed.

“Our current policy is that no face- to- face classes shall continue. That is the directive of our President to the IATF and DepEd,” Duque told reporters.

Last Tuesday, the health chief announced that he might recommend holding face-toface classes in areas with zero COVID-19 cases.

He noted, however, that currently, only the province of Batanes has zero COVID-19 cases for the last three to four weeks.

“We will come up with guidelines so that if there will be limited face-to-face classes, maybe it will be in low-risk areas and maybe where the health system is prepared and will not be overwhelme­d,” he said.

Duque’s statements came as 1,438 new COVID-19 cases were documented by the DOH, bringing the total to 434,357 cases as of yesterday.

DOH data showed that there are 26,916 active cases, which represent 6.2 percent of the total.

The agency recorded 232 patients who have recovered from the disease, raising the total recoveries to 399,005 or 91.9 percent.

Eighteen have succumbed to the virus, bringing the death toll to 8,436 or 1.94 percent.

Davao City topped the lists of new cases with 142 cases, followed by Laguna (89), Quezon City (80), Manila (63) and Pampanga (58).

‘No vaccine, no face-to-face classes’

Sen. Bong Go dismissed calls for the resumption of face-toface learning as sending children to school might put them at risk of getting COVID-19.

Go, who chairs the Senate committee on health and demography, reaffirmed his position in support of Duterte’s stand to not allow physical classes in schools until a safe vaccine for COVID-19 is ready for distributi­on, especially to the poor and vulnerable sectors.

– Alexis Romero, Sheila Crisostomo, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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