UNVACCINATED learners should not be turned away by public schools as the country has started to partially shift back to in-person classes and registration is underway for the next school year, a local government official and senatorial aspirant said.
“There are reports that some schools require students to present proof of vaccination before they can be registered for in-person schooling,” said Sorsogon Governor Francis Joseph G. Escudero in a statement.
“This is, in plain terms, illegal,” said Mr. Escudero, who is eyeing a return to the Senate where he previously served for several terms beginning 2007.
“We cannot hinder access to education on any condition because this is a fundamental human right,” he added.
The Department of Education (DepEd) is holding an early registration period from March 25 to April 30 for the academic year 2022-2023.
Mr. Escudero emphasized that there is a law providing that all Filipinos receive quality education at all levels, with specific government agencies mandated to ensure access to education accessible for all.
“Even as we intensify our vaccination drive, in light of the millions of expiring COVID-19 vaccines, we cannot violate people’s rights and make vaccination mandatory,” he said.
“What the DepEd can strengthen is its education drive on why the youth should be vaccinated and the establishment of safety protocols in schools,” he added.
Vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among children aged 12 to 17 began in Nov. 2021 while inoculation for those 5 to 11 was launched in February.
As of March, a combined 10.9 million have received the jab for the two age groups.
The Philippine government is targeting to vaccinate more than 39.41 million children aged zero to 17 years old against the coronavirus.
“Whether these children are vaccinated or not, they are entitled to enter our public and private schools, no ifs or buts. Their right to quality education is unconditional and unquestionable, and COVID-19 does not change that,” Mr. Escudero said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan