23 million students troop to schools today

Published by rudy Date posted on June 16, 2009

Some 23 million students from elementary to college were to start classes today, after the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education said they would no longer delay school openings despite persistent threat from a deadly flu virus.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said classes in public schools started to normalize after they opened June 1.

But he added that the Department of Health, as well as school authorities, took measures to address the recently reported case of pupil with A(H1N1) enrolled at Helera Elementary school in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.

But Lapus noted the Health department report that the confirmed cases of A(H1N1) in the Philippines, like the vast majority of those reported around the world, have been mild in nature. The infected student in Nueva Ecija was reportedly still under medical observation but was recovering from the virus.

Nonetheless, Lapus said the Education department would continue to abide by the Health department guidelines about the appropriate response to an A(H1N1) breakout.

He added that the so-called swine flu was no reason panic. “We have a procedure, and we should be careful because this is the time of coughs and fever since it’s the rainy season. They [parents] should have this [symptoms in their children] checked by the doctors first and not make hasty judgments.”

He added, “We need to intensify our campaign, and educate the school children and parents regarding A(H1N1) virus.”

According to the Department of Education, there are more than 19 million students in public schools —pre-school, primary and secondary levels—enrolled last school year. The student population was expected to increase by 2 percent this school year.

Department records also show that more than 2 million students were enrolled private pre-schools, elementary and high schools.

Colleges and universities

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED), which regulates colleges and universities, also announced that there would be no more school delays because of A(H1N1).

Commission Chairman Emma­nuel Angeles said he expected some 2.6 million students and 500,000 faculty personnel to report to some 1,726 colleges and universities today.

“Di tayo kailangan mag-panic. We are taking all precautions. Kaya umpisa na ang klase, di natin pwedeng i-postpone [We do not need to panic. We are taking all precautions, and we cannot afford to postpone classes anymore],” he said in an interview on dzXL radio.

He also advised students and faculty who have flu-like symptoms to stay home as a precaution.

Last week, Angeles postponed the opening of classes from June 8 to 15, after students at De La Salle University were confirmed to have A(H1N1). Four other universities reported having students with the novel flu strain.

Angeles said the Health department was now monitoring the situation, adding that everything was under control. –James Konstantin Galvez, Reporter, Manila Times

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