November 2, 2022
MANILA — Wearing a mask in classrooms will be optional, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced on Tuesday, just a day before the full implementation of in-person classes.
“DepEd will follow [Executive Order] 7 and will issue an amendatory DO [DepEd order],” DepEd spokesperson Michael Tan Poa told INQUIRER.net in a text message.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed the executive order on Oct. 28, which lifted the mandatory use of face masks indoors.
A month earlier, Marcos also lifted the mandatory use of face masks outdoors.
Full face-to-face classes will start on Wednesday, Nov. 2, in accordance with DO 34 series of 2022, which mandates five days of in-person classes weekly.
The order also barred blended or distance learning beyond Oct. 31.
Despite the optional use of face masks, the Department of Health (DOH) urged people to still use “layers of protection” against COVID-19. It has not commented on DepEd’s decision.
It was not yet clear whether the DepEd made its decision in consultation with the DOH.
As of Nov. 1, the DOH online COVID-19 Tracker shows 19,340 active COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Earlier, the DOH warned that virus transmission would probably increase during the observance of “Undas” — that is, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day — and during the Christmas holidays.
The DOH has also recently detected the XBB Omicron subvariant and XBC variant of COVID-19.
Both are believed to be highly immune-evasive, with the XBB tagged as the main driving force for the recent COVID-19 surge in Singapore, and the XBC being a combination of the BA.2 sublineage of the Omicron and Delta variants.