THE use of face mask is more convenient to use among the teachers and students in schools, said an education official in his response to suggestions to make face shields as a substitute for masks.

Regional Director Salustiano Jimenez of the Department of Education in Central Visayas said on Friday, September 30, 2022, that face mask is more convenient for the students in terms of mobility.

Jimenez said this was also the directive of the Department of Health (DOH), adding that face shields are also more expensive.

On September 22, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte issued DepEd Order 39 series of 2022 containing the health and safety protocols against Covid-19 amidst the implementation of face-to-face classes.

The DepEd order requires the mandatory wearing of face masks for teachers and learners in enclosed spaces and identified the use of face shields as an alternative.

But despite the order making face shields as an alternative, Jimenez said they still encouraged the students to wear face masks as recommended by the DOH.

"We do not say face shield is not allowed, but based on the DOH pronouncements. The face masks are more okay than face shields and easier," Jimenez added.

Jimenez said they mandated schools to prepare stocks of face masks ready in case some students attend school without wearing one.

98 percent of teachers vaccinated

Jimenez said they have already achieved 98 percent vaccination target for their teachers in the region.

He added that about 82,000 teachers in the Central Visayas are already fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) virus, while only around 2,000 are unvaccinated.

Jimenez said some teachers chose to be unvaccinated for health, religious, and other personal reasons.

But the regional director reiterated that unvaccinated teachers are still allowed to teach in schools following the directive of Vice President Duterte not to discriminate them.

Jimenez, however, said that unvaccinated teachers and students will be encouraged to have a Reverse Transcriptase–Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test.

He stated there are at least 10,000 antigen test kits at the Cebu Provincial Capitol that were turned over by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia that teachers could utilize at least every two weeks.

Jimenez also advised the teachers to encourage the students to bring water and alcohol or hand sanitizer and install a hand washing area.

He also instructed the teachers to isolate those who manifest Covid-like symptoms to avoid cross-contamination. (HIC)