The Department of Education (DepEd) said they have “no decision yet” on conducting COVID-19 mass testing in schools, Monday.
According to DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malauan, there would be a testing protocol aligned with the health standards, but “mass testing” should be defined carefully.
“It might be misinterpreted as testing all, which may be neither affordable nor needed,” Malaluan said in a tweet.
DepEd earlier said they are studying the cost of conducting mass testing in schools to ensure the safety of the students, parents, and teachers.
“The cost really has to be studied. How much is it? Can we afford it? Do we have a source [of funds]?” Education Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo said in Filipino in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo.
He also said the COVID-19 testing could also be costly.
“For example, you tested negative today. You will go back to your home and community. When you return, you will be tested again because you may not have acquired the virus in the school but in the home or community,” he said.
DepEd seemed unprepared for August 24 school opening
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian was concerned over Department Education’s seeming lack of details on the opening of classes for primary and secondary level on August 24.
“To be honest, I get this sense na kulang sa detalye ang preparation ng DepEd considering na August 24 na ang pasukan which is three months from now. We are talking about 22 million public school learners and 5 million private school learners. Hindi madali ang preparation nito,” Gatchalian told reporters in an online interview after the hearing.
The senator said DepEd officials failed to show a detailed plan on how it would implement the “new normal” in a school setting.
“Three months is barely enough to make sure that we have the necessary tools to make sure the safety of our students and they be taught properly under the new normal,” he said.
Gatchalian gave DepEd until May 31 to present to Senate basic education committee the details on measures needed to ensure the safety of both students and teachers should the classes resume on August 24.