Malacañang on Wednesday announced that 50 percent of public school classrooms in Metro Manila would be temporarily used as quarantine facilities as physical classes would remain suspended until December.

“The Palace confirms that 50 percent of public school classrooms in the National Capital Region will be used as temporary quarantine facilities as negotiated and agreed by both the Department of Education and the Department of Health,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

During a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Roque said Education Secretary Leonor Briones had given the government the nod for the conversion of classrooms into temporary isolation centers for Covid-19 patients.

“Pumayag naman po si [Secretary Briones] na gamitin ang mga public schools hanggang Dec. 31 ng taong ito habang wala pong face-to-face [classes] ang ating mga estudyante,” said the spokesman.

Roque said the target resumption of physical classes remained to be in January 2021.

“[That is] if and when a vaccine and/or medicinal drug is expected to be produced,” he added.

Public Works Secretary and chief isolation czar Mark Villar was mentioned by Roque to have started converting classrooms into quarantine facilities.

“Nandiyan po ang ating mga public schools para magsilbing isolation facilities sa level ng mga barangays dahil importante po talaga ma-isolate kung wala pong sariling kuwarto at walang sariling banyo,” Roque said Tuesday.

The government’s isolation strategy encourages sending “mild” or “asymptomatic” Covid-19 cases to quarantine facilities instead of having them undergo home quarantine.

“Oplan Kalinga” was established after the World Health Organization discouraged home quarantine for patients showing “mild” to no symptoms and recommended that they be isolated in designated facilities instead. John Ezekiel J. Hirro