(PNA photo by Gil Calinga)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) said it “fully supports” the resumption of face-to-face (F2F) classes in November.

As of mid-June, about 38,000 schools nationwide have been nominated to conduct in-person classes.

“We fully support that and even our experts have given their recommendations na kailangan na po talagang buksan ang ating mga edukasyon para sa mga kabataan (that we really need to open education for our children),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a televised public briefing.

Earlier, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte plans to start the phased implementation of in-person classes by September.

However, the DOH emphasized the importance of ensuring a safe learning environment for the children.

Vergeire noted that the DOH does not mandate that children must be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) “but it strongly encourages” parents to consider inoculation to provide better protection for them when in-person classes start.

“Maglalagay po tayo ng bakunahan sa mga eskwelahan para mas ma-encourage ang ating mga magulang para pabakunahan ang kanilang mga anak (We will set up vaccination sites in schools to encourage more parents to have their children inoculated),” she said.

On the other hand, schools must ensure that teachers and non-teaching personnel who will interact with the children should be vaccinated.

“I think, marami po sa ating mga eskwelahan hindi po talaga kaya ang physical distancing, so, the most po na ating ire-require would really be that children will wear a mask, especially during those times na magkakasama sa classroom (many among our schools are unable to implement physical distancing, so, the most that we will require would be that children wear a mask, especially during those times when they’re together in the classroom),” Vergeire said.

Learners would be exempted from wearing face masks when engaging in high-impact or strenuous activities, she added. (PNA)