(PNA file photo by Gil Calinga) 

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) no longer supports the use of schools as isolation and quarantine facilities for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.

“Since we have already allowed home quarantine, the need for these outside, external quarantine and isolation facilities [has] become of less importance for the government,” DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said Tuesday in a media forum.

She noted what the government needs now is to “adequately monitor all people doing home-based isolation and quarantine”.

Gagamitin na ito ng ating mga mag-aaral para sa pagbubukas ng ating eskuwela (The students are now going to use the schools for the opening of classes),” she said.

Classes for the academic year 2022 to 2023 are expected to start on Aug. 22.

Consistent with the DOH’s goal to bring Covid-19 vaccines close to the people, Vergeire said the agency will set up vaccination sites in schools within communities that are highly populated and schools in strategic locations.

“Currently, we already have 3,131 vaccination sites in schools already set up. Additional sites will be set up to make vaccination more visible and to encourage more mothers to have their children vaccinated,” she said.

Fully vaccinated children aged five to 11 years old are not yet recommended to receive a booster shot.

Earlier, the DOH said its evidence generation unit and health experts have not found enough data on the benefits of booster for the young age group.

Its focus right now is to reach the vaccination target for the five to 11 years old population as its coverage remains low at 40 percent.

As for the deployment of unvaccinated teachers in schools, Vergeire emphasized the Department of Education has the authority over the matter and there is no health and safety protocol keeping the unvaccinated from performing their duties.

“We highly encourage those who will interact with children to be vaccinated,” she said.

Schools are also encouraged to ensure that all safety protocols are in place if they deploy unvaccinated teaching and non-personnel. (PNA)