MANILA, August 31, 2022 – As part of its efforts to promote minimum public health standards and COVID-19 vaccination, the Department of Education (DepEd) ramped up the BIDA Kid and PinasLakas campaigns to ensure safety of learners and educators in the return of face-to-face classes.

In a webinar conducted by the Department of Health (DOH) titled “Sa Booster: PinasLakas na BIDA Kid,” DepEd spokesperson Atty. Michael Poa reiterated the Department’s information drive in the implementation of the 3Bs: Bakuna (Vaccination), Bayanihan (Solidarity) and BIDA behaviors—Best friend natin ang masks, Ingatan at hugasan ang kamay, Dumistansya upang makaiwas sa sakit, Airflow ay panatilihin (Wear masks, observe handwashing and social distancing to avoid getting sick, and maintain room airflow).

“It won’t stop with the opening of classes,” Atty. Poa said, allaying fears from the public, especially parents. “Tuluy-tuloy po nating mino-monitor ang situation sa bawat paaralan, because each school is unique. Buong school year po ‘to, especially during the transition period, we will be monitoring our schools para makita at matukoy natin na strictly enforced ang ating minimum public health standards.”

Likewise, Dr. Alfonso Miguel Regala, division chief of the Health Promotion Bureau of the DOH, made mention of PinasLakas, an expanded nationwide booster vaccination campaign. Through this, vaccination sites will be set up in areas of convergence such as malls, public markets, churches, and schools to make the choice of vaccination easier for everyone.

While the effects of COVID-19 on children are less severe compared to other populations, due diligence in vaccination and strict adherence to the minimum public health standards lessen the threat of infection in schools, according to Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, a pediatric infectious diseases expert.

Warianne Torrente, campaign lead of The Asian Parent, also shared how it is important for adults to model the way for children. “Health is a love language. Ipakita natin ang pagmamahal natin sa ating mga anak by protecting them and teaching them how to protect themselves,” she said.

Atty. Poa then called on those on the ground, including parents and the media, to report schools that fail or refuse to comply with the minimum public health standards so the Department can identify and intervene as quickly as possible.

“The goal is to bring our learners back to school, kasi nga maraming nahirapan nung two years ng pandemya,” he added. “Now, sa pagbabalik-eskwela po natin, again, I want to reiterate, hindi po perpekto ang mangyari kasi taun-taon talagang may problema. We know there will be challenges, but we are up to the challenge.”