Recently, the Department of Education in the province headed by Catanduanes Division Superintendent Dr. Danilo Despi stood pat on its decision not to extend the use of public schools as quarantine facilities beyond July 31, 2020.

              With this ultimatum, Municipal chief executives had their additional concern and headache of identifying and converting possible health quarantine facilities amid  spike of positive cases, which as of writing, ballooned to 17 excluding the result of contact tracing efforts conducted by hired contract tracers in the respective municipalities. The consoling fact is that some of these patients have been declared negative and were released for good measure.   

              Accordingly, fully a third of the province’s 315 quarantine facilities turned unusable by the 11 LGUs. In an update based on the inventory of the facilities prepared by Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Hazel Palmes, a total of 105 DepEd school buildings were affected by the non-extension, namely: 2 each in Baras and Caramoran, 7 in Gigmoto, 14 in Pandan, 8 in Panganiban, 17 in San Andres, 7 in San Miguel and  48 in Virac.

              That PHO inventory did not indicate exactly the total number of beds contributed  by the 105 DepEd public school buildings, but it could account for a considerable number out of the total 2007-bed capacity of the 315 quarantine facilities.    

              On the same occasion held on  July 20, 2020, there were 520 Locally-Stranded Individuals (LSIs) in 26 LGU quarantine facilities , with another 650 on home quarantine , Dr. Palmes  reported to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) meeting couple of weeks at the Catanduanes Convention Center.

               The non-extension on the use of public school buildings in DepEd, Division Catanduanes means one thing—the DepEd headed by Secretary Leonor Briones is fixed (read: hell-bent) on opening the blended modal learning-based classes on August 24 as mandated by law.

              To ascertain this matter, I personally asked one of our PBA-graduate Jake Terrago, now a secondary school teacher at Manambrag National High School and Mrs. Yolanda Tayam, Bigaa Elementary School Princiap. Their responses were positive. The classes will start on August 24, 2020, that is, barring unexpected events that may led to its postponement or cancellation.

              So that’s it parents in Islang Kayganda.  Get ready for the opening of this blended learning modalities in the New Normal situation amid this COVID-19 pandemic devastation in all aspects of our lives.

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             Meanwhile, it’s worthy to note the proactive stance of the provincial government in a resolution approved by the chairman, Governor Joseph C. Cua of the Catanduanes Task Force Against COVID-19 requesting the national interagency task force to regulate the travel of Locally-Stranded Individuals (LSIs) from Metro Manila.

            This requested was made on the looming congestion of quarantine facilities vis-à-vis influx of travelers—the LSIs, and may I add: ROFs and APORs who have the twisted notion of exemption from the 14-day quarantine measures.

            The resolution argued thus: “With the national government implementing the Balik Probinsiya, Hatid Tulong and other repatriation programs for LSIs and Reurning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) during the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said that there will be a steady influx of returnees in the coming months.

            “All of the positive cases in the island returned through programs initiated by the national government or through the LSIs and ROFs’ own volition via private vehicles” the task force said.

             Personally, I agree with this request and relate to this matter due to my OFW-Bahrain-based who is scheduled to go home to the Philippines this coming September 2020. (To be continued)