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Unexpected challenge to teacher-vaccination rules emerges from DFA’s Locsin

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. has asked the Justice department about the legality of requiring that teachers be vaccinated against the coronavirus before being allowed to return to face-to-face teaching.

In a social media post Thursday, Mr. Locsin asked the Department of Justice if it is “legal for schools to require teachers to vaccinate before letting them in the classroom when face to face (classes are) allowed?”

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Gevarra messaged reporters Thursday that “tough policy questions like these will most likely be discussed at the cabinet meeting first.”

He added that Mr. Locsin’s question “may have been triggered by (French President Emmanuel) Macron’s statements.”

Mr. Macron announced on July 12 that starting August, French citizens are required to be fully vaccinated before being allowed to enter public places such as restaurants, shopping centers, and public transportation.

Around 1.3 million people booked vaccination appointments on the French medical website Doctolib less than 24 hours after Mr. Macron’s announcement.

In the Philippines, there are no rules yet in place requiring teachers to be inoculated before being allowed to resume limited face-to-face classes, which are now being rolled out for medical classes.

Teachers are included in the A4 priority group for vaccination against COVID-19.

Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones had also encouraged teachers to get inoculations, which “will play a huge role in our bid to return our learners to school,” she said in a post on the Department of Education’s website in April.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte said last month that he cannot allow the full resumption of face-to-face classes until everyone is vaccinated or until the population achieved herd immunity. 

“I’m sorry but, it’s difficult. I cannot gamble on the health of the children,” Mr. Duterte told Ms. Briones in a televised briefing on June 21 in rejecting her request for a return to face-to-face classes. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

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