VIGAN CITY — In view of the increasing number of COVID-19 patients and Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) particularly in Metro Manila, Local Government Units are considering the use of DepEd schools as quarantine areas.
Earlier, Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno said they will convert some 5,000 classrooms in public elementary and high schools into quarantine facilities should the COVID-19 outbreak turn for the worse in the city.
In answer to the call, Education Secretary Leonor Briones issued Office Memorandum SEC 2020-002 designating regional directors with the responsibility of approving or denying LGU requests to use DepEd schools for quarantine and isolation purposes within their respective jurisdiction, based on evaluation of the request by the Schools Division Superintendent in consultation with the school heads and with the Department of Health.
“The matter of utilization of schools as quarantine or isolation areas has been discussed in the [Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases] and the Cabinet on decisions concerning COVID-19,” Briones said.
The memo further states:
In adherence to DOH Department Memorandum No. 2020-0123 and other applicable DOH and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, the evaluation of the request shall be guided by the following:
a. The LGU must state in its request the specific intended purpose or use for the school, and identify the particular facility in the school that will be used as well as the duration of their use, subject to extension, if necessary;
b. The LGU must show that all other facilities have been duly assessed and were found to be inadequate. Schools can be recommended only when no other facilities are available;
c. The LGU must present an assessment by the municipal, city, or provincial health officer that the facility within the school is suitable for the specific intended purpose;
d. The LGU must present the planned management of the facility, which shall be under the supervision of the City/Municipal Health Officer, as stated in DOH Department Memorandum No. 2020-0123, and must conform to existing DOH standards and guidelines, including, but not limited to, patient management, safety standards within the facility and immediate community, waste management/disposal, and other similar/related health requirements; and
e. The LGU request must include an undertaking: for the safekeeping of all property and valuables in the school premises during the operation of the facility; payment of utilities for the period; the conduct of the general cleaning and fumigation, and repair and/or replacement of damaged school facilities as a result of the use of the school; and, payment of expenses related to the setting-up, operation and clearing of the areas used.
f. When a request is granted by the Regional Director based on the recommendation by the concerned Schools Division Superintendent, the school heads must coordinate with the LGU on the following preparations before actual use of the facility for the intended purpose:
a. Designation and vacating of the approved school spaces/structures to be used by the LGU as quarantine or isolation areas, including removal of all chairs, tables, furniture, equipment and other school properties. Such approved school spaces/structures to be used as quarantine or isolation areas shall be cordoned off from the rest of the school;
b. Designation of sufficient number of comfort rooms and handwashing facilities to be used;
c. Safekeeping and/or proper storage of all learning and education materials, resources, equipment, and school records;
d. Documentation of the condition of school facilities and resources before use of the facility;
e. Signing of the minimum Terms and Conditions (TAC) for the Use of DepEd Schools as Quarantine or Isolations Areas, as provided by the Regional Director; and
f. All DepEd personnel involved in the preparation of the school premises shall strictly observe all existing health precautions and social distancing protocols of DepEd.