AN OFFICIAL of the Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd 7) has reiterated that coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination is not required for students before they can join the limited face-to-face classes and graduation rites.

“To re-emphasize, we strongly encourage for the vaccination but not part of the requirement,” DepEd 7 Director Salustiano Jimenez told SunStar Cebu after learning that some public schools reportedly required students to get vaccinated before they can join the limited face-to-face classes and graduation rites.

The regional director, however, emphasized that unvaccinated teachers are still not allowed to teach in front of their students.

But Jimenez said unvaccinated teachers could still report to work provided they could submit either a negative rapid antigen or negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result every two weeks.

He said they will be given tasks outside teaching, wherein they may be the ones who will print or prepare the activity sheets or materials for the blended learning or perform other tasks as long as they have work to do or accomplishments.

Graduation rites

As for the graduation rites, Jimenez said schools, particularly private schools, could possibly require parents to submit either a negative antigen test or negative RT-PCR test result in order for them attend the activity.

“Though again, we strongly encourage that they shall be vaccinated, but if ever wala, so the school also can possibly request for either antigen or RT-PCR result,” he said, adding that they can coordinate with the local government units (LGUs) that provide free Covid-19 testing.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued a memorandum on June 13, reminding all mayors in the province that Covid-19 vaccination should not be considered an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment and other similar government transaction purposes.

Garcia also told the mayors that “Rural Health Units should not be used by Department of Education district superintendents, district supervisors, and school heads in order to discriminate against unvaccinated teachers, students, or parents.”

Sought for a comment, Jimenez said there is no conflict with the governor’s memorandum with that of DepEd, saying a Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases resolution requires unvaccinated teachers to submit a negative test result either of the two Covid tests in lieu of vaccination in order to join the school activities.