PASIG CITY, March 16, 2020 — Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones tested negative for COVID-19 as results came back on Monday.
Similar with other Cabinet officials’ reason, Secretary Briones underwent COVID-19 testing to ensure that there will be no threat to her functions as Education chief, no disruption in the governance of the education sector, and protecting the President and other cabinet members from possible exposure, at this critical time.
“Classes may be suspended but our work in DepEd to protect our Filipino teachers, personnel and 27.2 million learners against this virus will never stop. I will continue to discharge my functions as the government enhances its measures in responding to this crisis,” Briones said.
Though she had no direct exposure from COVID-19-affected person, Secretary Briones voluntarily took a home quarantine as extra precautionary measure as some DepEd officials were exposed to a positive COVID-19 person. These DepEd officials, who met a participant that tested positive to COVID-19 during a meeting in the Central Office on February 28, have shown no symptoms past the recommended 14-day quarantine period.
On Monday, Briones presided DepEd Execom’s third video conferencing meeting to discuss the actions of DepEd on the recent issuances of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Office of the President (OP).
In addition, Briones issued DepEd Memorandum No. 042, s. 2020, detailing the guidelines for the remainder of School Year 2019-2020 in light of the COVID-19 measures, which include the directives for the 4th quarterly examinations, graduation rites, grading and transmutation formula, and Online Alternative Learning Delivery.
The DepEd chief also released guidelines for work arrangements in all DepEd offices, units, and schools within the National Capital Region and other areas where community quarantine has been imposed by the appropriate authorities through DepEd Memorandum No. 43, s. 2020.
DM No. 43, s. 2020 is guided by the following: observance of stringent social distancing measures by all DepEd offices, units, and schools located within NCR; continuity of delivery of DepEd essential services and priority programs, while observing stringent social distancing measures in work-related functions and responsibilities; and consistency of the actions of each official, teaching and nonteaching personnel in the context of work and private activities, to ensure that the public health objectives are achieved and not compromised by the inconsistent action and behavior of individuals.
Last week, Briones also established guidelines on graduation rites in light of the public health situation (DepEd Order No. 2-2020; and signed DepEd Memo No. 39, which authorizes the prudent use of regular MOOE and local funds to implement measures in preparing and responding to the COVID-19 threats, particularly for DepEd offices and schools.
The DepEd chief likewise pursued to sort out finance-related matters in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, including fast tracking the processing of salaries of teaching and non-teaching personnel; requesting the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for early cash release for 2nd quarter to finance critical activities, including the appeal for reconsideration of PBB 2018; and providing additional provident funds to be made readily available for affected COVID-19 personnel.