The Department of Education (DepEd) issues Policy Directives to provide, among others, measures for the prevention and control of the COVID-19 in Basic Education Schools and DepEd Offices; the formation/activation of DRRM Teams to combat the virus; and safety precautions and protocols and reporting templates. Prevention and control measures include placing travel limitations and restrictions and guidelines for DepEd activities.
Proclamation Number 922 Declaring a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines was signed on 08 March 2020.
DO 007, s. 2020 – School Calendar and Activities for School Year 2020-2021
After consultations and internal discussions, DepEd has reached a decision to set the opening of School Year (SY) 2020-2021 on August 24, 2020. However, the days in August prior to the formal school opening will be used to provide learners with assignments to explore foundational topics for deepening during the year, orientation on the utilization of alternative learning delivery modalities and corresponding learners’ materials, and mental health and psychosocial support activities. These pre-opening activities devoted to the attainment of the learning objectives for the school year shall be counted as class days. The school year will end on April 30, 2021.
School opening will not necessarily mean traditional face-to-face learning in classroom. The physical opening of schools will depend on the risk severity grading or classification of a locality, pursuant to guidelines of the Department of Health (DOH), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Philippines (IATF), or the Office of the President (OP). Even in areas where schools are allowed to open, physical distancing will still be required, which will necessitate schools to combine face-to-face learning with distance learning.
Because of the compressed school year, the Secretary is authorizing the holding of Saturday classes, through the conduct of distance learning activities to be undertaken by learners, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 7797. Should religious considerations prohibit these Saturday activities, they shall be undertaken on Sundays. In all, the total class days in the 2020-2021 school calendar will be 203 days.
The learning intervention for Alternative Learning System (ALS) shall also formally open on August 24, 2020, while the program duration will depend on the learner’s educational background or existing knowledge level prior to enrolling in the ALS program.
Private schools and state/local universities and colleges (SUCs/LUCs) offering basic education will be allowed to open classes within the period authorized by RA 7797, which is on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August, Provided:
a. No face-to-face classes will be allowed earlier than August 24, 2020, and from then on, face-to-face classes may be conducted only in areas allowed to open physically.
b. They submit in advance the following documents to the DepEd Regional Offices (ROs) for review and monitoring purposes:
- Their school’s plan for compliance with minimum health standards that will be issued by DepEd, consistent with guidelines of the DOH, the IATF, and the OP;
- Their school’s Learning Continuity Plan showing alternative delivery modes of learning when face-to-face learning is not allowed, which shall constitute compliance with the requirement provided under Item 6 of Annex 3, DepEd Order No. 021, s. 2019; and
- Their school’s SY 2020-2021 School Calendar.
DM 051, s. 2020 – Guidelines on the Conduct of Remedial, Advancement, and Enrichment Classes during Summer
The conduct of remedial, enrichment and advancement classes for Summer 2020 shall start on May 11, 2020, and shall end after the completion of the six- week period that may include Saturdays as stipulated in DO 13, s. 2018. Schools may opt to shorten the conduct of remedial and advancement classes when the essential learning competencies have already been attained, while the conduct of enrichment classes may be extended until the start of School Year (SY) 2020-2021.
This policy also issues the following guidelines to assist schools in determining the learning modality for remediation and enrichment classes that is suited to the unique health situation/context of their community. School heads (SHs) shall decide on the specific details of such classes, subject to the approval of their respective schools division superintendent (SDS).
For Grades 1 to SHS Learners
a. Remediation classes. As mandated by DO 8, s. 2015, a learner who receives a grade lower than 75 in any subject must be given
intervention through remediation and must pass the said remedial classes to be promoted to the next grade level. The guidelines for such remedial classes are stipulated in DO 13, s. 2018.
Alternatively, learners with failing marks in any learning area may instead be required to attend make-up classes during the SY 2020-2021. Schools that opt to conduct such make up classes in place of remedial classes during the summer term shall be required to prepare and submit an implementation plan before the start of the school year, subject to the approval of their SDS. This plan shall allow learners to stay in school beyond their regular class schedules to attend after-class interventions in the subject area/s in which they failed.
b. Enrichment classes. As part of the learning continuity plan of DepEd, schools may also offer a six-week enrichment class to learners who:
• had a hard time focusing in their lessons in the previous SY;
• needed more time to understand concepts; and
• received low grades.
Learners who meet the above criteria shall attend enrichment classes on a voluntary basis.
For SHS Learners only
Advancement classes. School may offer advancement classes to SHS learners who:
- would like to pursue their work immersion prior to the start for SY 2020-2021; or
- would like to take advance subjects prior to SY 2020-2021 so that more attention or focus shall be given to their work immersion in the succeeding semester.
Learners may only take advancement classes for three subjects within the six-week period and shall do so on a voluntary basis.
In delivering distance learning, Modular Learning in print or digital format shall be adopted using Self-Learning Modules (SLMs) or Alternative Delivery Mode (ADM) self-instructional modules on competencies in subject area/s where
the learner failed. Schools shall consider the learner’s access to home-based internet before utilizing an online platform to deliver these SLMs.
Learners with internet connectivity at home are also encouraged to access enrichment activities and other interactive resources through http://commons.deped.gov.ph. When learners and teachers are already permitted to leave their homes for school purposes, the face-to- face learning delivery shall be included in the options, subject to compliance with minimum health standards as will be issued by DepEd or other appropriate authority.
OM OSEC 2020-007 – Guidance on Authorizing Concerned Officials and Personnel of the Central Office to Reimburse Enhanced Community Quarantine-Related Expenses
This policy authorizes the reimbursement of the following ECQ related expenses incurred or to be incurred during the COVID-19 health crisis:
a. Communication expense (mobile and internet) of personnel under WFH arrangement, as these expenses are incurred in connection with the performance of their official functions and are necessary to support the operations of an agency. The reimbursement of internet and prepaid expenses used by personnel under WFH arrangement during the implementation of ECQ amounting to Five Hundred Pesos (P500)/month, which shall be certified by the heads of office.
b. Transportation expenses of personnel who do not avail of the provided DepEd Service amounting to Two Hundred Pesos (P200)/day.
Provisions shall be allowed only for permanent, casual and contractual employees, and workers under Contract of Service and Job Order status.
DO 005, s. 2020 – Delegation of Authority for Negotiated Procurement Under Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”
The Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), pursuant to RA 11469, issued Resolution No. 06-2020 titled Approving the Recommendation to Increase the Allowable Amount of Advance Payment and Issuance of a Circular on the Guidelines for Emergency Procurement under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan Act to Heal as One Act.
Sections 3.2, 3.3. and 3.5 of GPPB Circular 01-2020 authorizes the delegation of the authority and responsibility of the Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE) to approve the Annual Procurement Plan, to directly negotiate or conduct the procurement activities, and to award the contract, in favor of appropriate officials, bureau, committee or support or procuring unit.
To ensure that the requirements for goods and services are procured in the most efficient and expeditious manner, the authority and responsibility of the Secretary under Republic Act 9184 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act, is hereby delegated to various officials in CO, ROs, SDOs, IUs, and Non-IUs (see paragraph j on the delegation of authorities and responsibilities), consistent with the following guidelines:
- Field Offices as Decentralized Procuring Units (refer to paragraph a)
- Authority to Procure/Purchase Request, Notice of Award and Notice to Proceed (refer to paragraphs b to i).
The documentary requirements for the negotiated procurement shall be as prescribed in Section 4 of GPPB Circular 01-2020.
The procurement activities that may be undertaken under this policy shall cover those contemplated under the Bayanihan Act and authorized under Section 2.2 of GPBB Circular 01-2020.
DO 004, s. 2020 – Amendment to DepEd Order No. 017, s. 2019 (Guidelines on the Provision and Use of Official Mobile Phones, Postpaid Lines and Prepaid Loads)
This policy amends DepEd Order No. 017, s. 2019, amending the maximum monthly provision for the postpaid line and prepaid load of School Heads/Principals to PhP 1,000.00, and includes Assistant School Principals assigned to manage Senior High Schools in Integrated Secondary Schools to PhP 800.00 per month.
This shall take effect retroactively on March 18, 2020.
OM OSEC 2020-006 – Reminder to Refrain from Using ATM Payroll Cards as Collateral for Loans or Engaging in the ATM Sangla Scheme
Pursuant to Section 4 (aa) of the Republic Act No. 11469, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and the Implementing Rules and Regulations issued by the Department of Finance effective April 2, 2020, several entities and institutions, both public and private, including the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Pag-IBIG Fund, have issued their respective guidelines for the implementation of the mandatory grace period or the suspension of payment for loans.
The Department of Education (DepEd) is set to refund the loan amortizations deducted from the April 2020 payroll and the suspension of deductions for loan payments from the May 2020 salary payroll.
Likewise, DepEd took initiatives for the early processing and release of the salaries of employees for the months of March and April. This is to ensure that employees have additional cash, while battling with the COVID-19 pandemic. These financial reliefs will be reflected in the payroll months of April, May, and June 2020.
With the additional cash credited to the ATM accounts of the employees, this Department reiterates its advice against the use of their individual ATM Payroll Card as collateral for loans or engaging in the ATM Sangla scheme.
The practice of surrendering ATM cards as collateral for loans is prohibited by the DepEd Terms and Conditions for Accreditation under the Automatic Payroll Deduction System.
DM 045, s. 2020 – Results-Based Performance Management System Guidelines for School Year 2019-2020 Yearend Activities in Light of COVID-19 Measures
As mandated by DepEd Order No. 2, s. 2015 titled Guidelines on the Establishment and Implementation of the Results-based Performance Management System in the Department of Education, the Department is scheduled to conduct Phase III: Performance Review and Evaluation and Phase IV: Performance Rewarding and Development Planning of the Results-based Performance Management System (RPMS) Cycle, School Year (SY) 2019-2020 for school-based personnel in April 2020. These phases include yearend review and assessment, evaluation of portfolio and computation of final rating, ways forward and development planning.
However, suspension of classes and all school activities at all levels in entire Luzon was declared until April 14, 2020 as part of the enhanced community quarantine and stringent social distancing measures for the management of COVID- 19 situation. Such enhanced community quarantine is extended until April 30, 2020.
Given the above considerations, DepEd emphasizes specific RPMS-related measures for school-based personnel. Please see Enclosure Nos. 1 and 2 of the memorandum for details.
It is also emphasized that the preparation and organization of the RPMS Portfolio shall have started during the start of the SY, and only a sample of
each Means of Verification (MOV), excluding those MOVs with the specified required number of pieces, is expected to be submitted. All RPMS-Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (PPST) Materials, including tools, forms, and other support materials, for SY 2019-2020 can be accessed at http://deped.in/RPMSPPSTSY20192020. Also, the prescribed Individual Performance and Commitment Review Form (IPCRF) for teachers can be accessed at http://deped.in/IPCRFEncode20192020.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Yearend Review shall be postponed temporarily and shall resume when authorities issue a declaration of safety for all DepEd employees. The adjusted schedule of RPMS Portfolio submission and evaluation, data collection and consolidation of IPCR rating will be released through a separate memorandum.
DO 003, s. 2020 – Internal Guidelines on the Implementation of Section 4(aa) of Republic Act No. 11469 Pertaining to the Grant of Extension or Grace Period on Payment of Loans under the Department’s Automatic Payroll Deductions Program
This memorandum provides for the Internal Guidelines on the Implementation of Section 4(aa) of Republic Act No. 11469, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations issued by the Department of Finance.
Said guidelines directs all lenders to grant a 30-day grace period or extension of period for payment of all loans, falling due within the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period, without imposing interest on interest or any additional charges and fees.
The internal guidelines aims to (a) harmonize different issuances with the spirit and intent of the Bayanihan Law; (b) provide rules and procedures that are consistent with the intent of the law and taking into consideration the technical limitations of its payroll program; (c) provide immediate and responsive guidance to DepEd implementing units for the timely implementation of the directives set forth in the law, while taking into consideration the risks that DepEd personnel in charge of payroll processing are exposed to; and (d) ensure that its implementation shall be the most beneficial to all personnel (both to DepEd’s processors of payroll and remittances and to DepEd borrowers).
It shall be effective for the entire duration of the ECQ and the moratorium provided by the Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) and Private Lending
Institutions (PLIs) accredited under the Department’s Automatic Payroll Deduction System Program, and shall apply to:
a. DepEd Offices and Units involved in the preparation and processing of monthly payrolls and remittances; and
b. DepEd teaching and non-teaching personnel with loans granted by GFIs and APDS-accredited PLIs
This policy provides for the general guidelines and procedural guidelines that shall be done at the central, regional, and schools division offices as well as implementing unit-secondary schools concerning processors of remittances and payrolls from March to June 2020.
OUA MEMO 00-0420-0029
This memorandum authorizes school heads to release Desktop Computers, Laptops, Tablet PCs, and Smartphones to teachers for use in the conduct of online trainings and online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic subject to the following guidelines:
- The principals/school heads (SHs) shall ensure that the devices which are government property are properly used, cared for, safeguarded from natural and human elements, and recorded upon turn-over to teachers;
- Teachers can bring home the said devices to enable them to attend online training courses and conduct online classes for their students using tools such as the DepEd Commons, LR Portal, and other websites during situations when face-to-face instruction is no longer possible due to quarantine restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The teacher is liable for any losses or damages while the device is in their custody if it is determined that there was negligence on the part of the teacher.
- Teachers are required to return the said devices upon the resumption of regular classes.
OM OSEC 2020-005 – Supplement to Office Memoranda OM OSEC 2020-004, OM OSEC 2020-003, and OM OSEC 2020-002
This memorandum underscores that DepEd Schools Division Offices (SDOs) and Regional Offices are directed to act with urgency on requests for use of DepEd schools in response to the COVID-19 outbreak within a total period of twenty-four (24) to seventy-two (72) hours from receipt of the requests.
With reference to OM-OSEC-2020-004, paragraph 14 (b), regarding the need for assessment that the activity intended to be conducted by the LGU in the school is compliant with rules and directives issued by the National Government for a unified response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the assessment may be made by the Regional Director of the DILG, the Chairperson of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force, or as an added option, the Provincial or City Director of the DILG.
Clarification is also made that only the Terms and Conditions (TAC) and its accompanying School Inventory of properties are required to be signed by the LGUs, if their request for use of DepEd schools is approved by the Regional Director, as stated in OM-OSEC-2020-002 and OM-OSEC-2020-004.
The SDO need not execute a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the LGU if the terms and conditions in the TAC suffice. Nonetheless, the two Office Memoranda provide that the SDO and LGU may enter into a MOA, in the event that the parties need to add other terms and conditions to the template TAC. For clarity, the document to be executed by the SDO and LGU shall be called “Additional Terms on the Use of the School by the LGU”.
Furthermore, one of the requirements for use of the school, as approved by the Regional Director, is only the “(s)igning of the minimum Terms and Conditions (TAC)…as provided by the Regional Director.” The TAC and the “Additional Terms on the Use of the School by the LGU” shall, as far as practicable be notarized, which may be done when conditions normalize. Meanwhile, the TAC shall be accepted by DepEd without notarization.
OUA MEMO 00-0420-0011 – Authority to use Disaster Preparedness and Response Program Funds (Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of DRRM/CCA/EIE Implementation) For COVID-19 Preparedness and Response
This policy authorizes Regional Offices and Schools Division Offices to use up to 50% of the allocated fund for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation of DRRM/CCA/EiE Implementation for COVID-19 preparedness and response measures. The allocation list can be found in Annex 1 of this memorandum.
Authority to use the abovementioned funds for the following expenses is given to ROs and SDOs:
- Activities involving critical, urgent, and appropriate measures to curtail and eliminate the COVID-19 threat are permissible under Planning,
Monitoring, and Evaluation of DRRM/CCA/EiE Implementation. These include, but are not limited to projects and activities undertaken by the DRRM Teams and Task Force in DepEd ROs, SDOs, and Schools created for COVID-19
- The following expenses incurred when undertaking critical, urgent, and appropriate measures to curtail and eliminate the COVID-19 threat may include: acquisition of PPE, vitamins or similar supplements, medical supplies, expenses incurred for the delivery of procured supplies and equipment, as well as food expenses, travel expenses, communication expenses and other miscellaneous expenses of DepEd COVID-19 DRRM Teams and Task Force in ROs, SDOs, and DepEd COVID-19 DRRM Teams and Task Force and Task Force in schools used as quarantine areas.
- Procurement of supplies and equipment can be implemented by region and division offices. Due to limited funds, region and division offices shall practice discretion and prioritization in identifying recipients.
This policy augments the funds made available by DM No. 39, s. 2020 which authorizes the use of regular allocations for MOOE and/or Local Funds to implement measures in preparing and responding to COVID-19.
In light of the various requests by LGUs for the use of DepEd schools and/or participation of DepEd personnel in LGU activities related to their response to the COVID-19 outbreak, this memorandum is issued to provide guidance for action on these requests.
This policy delegates to the Regional Directors the responsibility to approve or deny requests by LGUs to use DepEd schools for activities related to the COVID-19 outbreak within their respective jurisdictions, based on evaluation of the request by the Schools Division Superintendent in consultation with the school heads.
When a request is granted by the Regional Director based on the recommendation by the concerned Schools Division Superintendent, the school heads must coordinate with the LGU on the following preparations before actual use of the facility for the intended purpose.
The LGU shall sign the TAC provided by the Regional Director. Should there be other terms to be agreed upon between the Schools Division Office (SDO) and the LGU, the SDO shall draft a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the SDO and LGU, detailing the roles and responsibilities of the parties, among others. The TAC shall be attached to the MOA as an Annex and shall form an integral part of the MOA. In case of conflict between the MOA and the TAC, the TAC shall prevail. Attached hereto is a template TAC, setting forth the minimum terms and conditions for the use of school.
The memorandum also stipulates that DepEd teaching and nonteaching personnel may participate in the activities of LGUs in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, in a voluntary and personal capacity, subject to applicable laws and rules, including the rules and directives of the national government to address the COVID-19 public health emergency such as the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
Should DepEd personnel participate in the LGU activities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the LGU must provide proper trainings; ensure the safety and health of the DepEd personnel by providing the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), alcohol, sanitizers and other disinfectants, and implementing stringent social distancing measures; and pay remuneration or allowances, as may be warranted by law.
DepEd Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) coordinators shall provide support to school heads and School Health and Nutrition personnel in monitoring the use of schools by LGUs and the voluntary participation of DepEd personnel in activities of the LGUs in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak. Offsite monitoring shall be undertaken in view of social distancing precautionary measures, unless physical monitoring is necessary and feasible.
OM OSEC 2020-003 – Template Terms and Conditions for the use of DepEd schools as Quarantine or Isolations Areas
In relation to OM OSEC 2020-002, this memorandum provides the following templates to be accomplished:
Enclosure No. 1 – Letter of the School Head to the LGU communicating the Approval by the Regional Director of the request for the use of school as
temporary quarantine or isolation facility
Enclosure No. 2 – Terms and Conditions for the Use of DepEd School by the Local Government Unit as a Temporary Quarantine or Isolation Facility of Last Resort with School Inventory
OM OSEC 2020-002 – Guidance to Regional Directors for Action on Requests by Local Government Units to use DepEd Schools as Quarantine or Isolation Areas for COVID-19
This policy delegates the responsibility to approve or deny requests by LGUs to the Regional Directors in using DepEd schools for quarantine and isolation purposes within their respective jurisdiction, based on evaluation of the request by the Schools Division Superintendent in consultation with the school heads and with the Department of Health (DOH).
It underscores that the evaluation of requests shall adhere to DOH Department Memorandum No. 2020-0123 and other applicable DOH and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
School Heads must coordinate with the LGU before actual use of the facility for the intended purpose when a request is granted by the Regional Director based on the recommendation by the concerned Schools Division Superintendent.
LGUs shall sign the Terms and Conditions (TAC) provided by the Regional Director. The Schools Division Office (SDO) shall draft a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the SDO and LGU, detailing the roles and responsibilities of the parties, among others should there be other terms to be agreed upon between the SDO and the LGU. The TAC shall be attached to the MOA as an Annex and shall form an integral part of the MOA. In case of conflict between the MOA and the TAC, the TAC shall prevail.
Regional Directors shall devise an appropriate system for monitoring the use of schools within their jurisdiction as quarantine or isolation areas.
DRRM coordinators shall provide support to the School Health and Nutrition personnel in monitoring the use of school facilities.
DM No. 043, s. 2020 – Guidelines on the Alternative Work Arrangements in the Department of Education in light of the COVID-19 Stringent Social Distancing Measures
These guidelines provide for the work arrangements in the Department of Education in light of the implementation of the memorandum issued by the Office of the President and Joint Resolution Nos. 11 and 12 (s.2020) of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
All Undersecretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Regional Directors in Regional Offices of NCR and IVB, are directed to: a) identify the essential and priority deliverables covering all offices and units located within NCR under their supervision for the period of March 16 to April 14, 2020 and b) determine the Alternative Work Arrangement that will maximize social distancing for all officials and personnel while ensuring delivery of essential and priority deliverables.
Alternative Work Arrangements shall be applicable to all personnel, including those hired under Job Order and Contract of Service (COS).
Heads of Offices, through the indicated parameters in the memorandum, are given the discretion in the determination of the alternative work arrangement that is applicable for each functional office.
Furthermore, Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries, Bureau and Service Directors, Regional Directors, and Schools Division Superintendents must ensure their availability for decision-making and effective supervision of all work arrangements at all times.
All DepEd officials, teaching and non-teaching personnel are enjoined to monitor the day-to-day developments of the COVID-19 situation to be able to contribute to informed, coordinate, and proportionate response of the Department to the challenge of containing and managing COVID-19.
DM No. 042, s. 2020 – Guidelines for the Remainder of School Year 2019-2020 in light of COVID-19 Measures
These guidelines adopt the social distancing measures for the remainder of the School Year in light of the latest developments and information on COVID-19, as well as its assessment of the remaining school requirements for School Year 2019-2020.
The week of March 16 to 20 is designated as the examination week in all DepEd schools for any remaining 4th Quarter Examinations, which should be scheduled on staggered basis during the said week to maximize and abide by the social distancing protocols of DOH.
For schools within NCR and areas where LGUs have suspended classes, 4th Quarter Examinations will no longer be administered. Affected schools shall apply the indicated grading and transmutation formula which will be adopted for the evaluation of the final grades of affected learners.
Schools may hold their moving up/graduation/recognition rites subject to applicable social distancing measures in the locality directed by DepEd, OP, IATF, DOH, and other relevant national and local authorities. Schools in consultation with the Parents-Teachers Association leadership may choose to reschedule or forego the holding of rites, should the public health situation prevent the holding of the rites within the said period.
Teachers with available resources and access to the internet are highly encouraged to explore the Online Alternative Learning Delivery Platforms identified by the DepEd ICTS that may be used for delivering distance learning during periods of class suspensions and similar circumstances.
DM No. 039, s. 2020 – Authorizing the Use of Regular Allocations for the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses and/or Local Funds to Implement Measures in Preparing and Responding to the COVID-19 Threats
This memorandum authorizes DepEd Officials of the Central Office, Regional Directors, Schools Division Superintendents and Schools Heads on the prudent use/charging of the regular Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and/or local funds in undertaking critical, urgent, and appropriate measures as DepEd way of preparing, controlling, and responding to the COVID-19 threats.
DO No. 002, s. 2020 – Multi-year Implementing Guidelines on the Conduct of the K to 12 Basic Education Program End-of-School-Year Rites
This policy enclosed the Multi-year Implementing Guidelines on the Conduct of the K to 12 Basic Education Program End-of-School-Year Rites (EOSY) for Kindergarten, Grade 6, Grade 10 and Grade 12 learners who meet the curriculum requirements at the end of each school year.
In this light, the EOSY rites for SY 2019-2020 shall focus on the theme “Sulong Edukalidad: Pagtataguyod sa Kinabukasan ng Bayan (Sulong Edukalidad: Championing the Nation’s Future). The school shall have the discretion to elect the date for the holding of this year’s rites within the week of April 13-17, 2020, taking into consideration the applicable guidelines by the conduct of rites consistent with the DOH guidelines on mass gatherings.
DM No. 034, s. 2020 – Fifth Set of Policy Directives of the DepEd Task Force COVID-19
This policy underscores the Department of Health’s announcement placing the country under COVID-19 Alert System to Code Red Sublevel 1, as well as the President’s agreement to declare a State of Public Health Emergency.
In this light, DepEd offices and schools are instructed to ensure that all DepEd personnel and learners who are known to have had closed contacts with confirmed cases of COVID-19 shall undergo home quarantine, and reiterates that all guidelines related to travel of DepEd personnel and learners, alongside the corresponding quarantine requirement as enumerated in DM 031, s. 2020 remains.
This policy also sets heightened precautionary measures on the conduct of the NSPC and NFOT, as well as the suspension of classes and conduct of activities for the month of March for the guidance of all Regional Directors, Schools Division Superintendents, and School Heads.
DM No. 031, s. 2020 – Fourth Set of Policy Directives of the DepEd Task Force COVID-19
The memorandum revokes the previously approved official travels of DepEd personnel and learners for the month of March 2020 to countries identified to have confirmed cases of persons under investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19. All personnel are also warned against traveling abroad without approved travel authority.
It also reiterates the 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for learners and personnel deciding to proceed with their scheduled personal travels to
countries identified to have confirmed cases of COVID-19 or PUIs. They shall adhere to the general and implementing guidelines based on Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 05, s. 2020, DOH Memorandum No. 2020-0090 dated February 17, 2020.
As stipulated in the memorandum, the 14 days of self-quarantine of DepEd personnel shall not be deducted from their earned leave credits, in consonance with CSC MC 05, s. 2020.
DM No. 023, s. 2020 – Third Set of Policy Directives of the DepEd Task Force COVID-19
The travel measures and restrictions as stipulated in Enclosure No. 2 of DM 15, s. 2020 remains in effect, as well as the 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for learners and personnel deciding to proceed with their scheduled personal travels to countries identified to have confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The policy also allows units at the Central Office, Regional Offices, Schools Division Offices, and schools to resume the conduct of national, regional, and/or campus activities starting February 24, 2020, provided all precautionary measures identified by DepEd in previous memoranda, and by the Department of Health in its issuances are strictly followed.
Schools are directed by this issuance to dedicate weekends for school-wide general cleaning and intensified disinfection efforts, on top of regular cleaning efforts during school days and to utilize the schools’ maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) to effectively execute the protective measures enclosed in DM 015, s. 2020.
DM No. 021, s. 2020 – Second Set of Policy Directives of the DepEd Task Force COVID-19
This issuance further elaborates the travel measures and restrictions as stipulated in Enclosure No. 2 of DM 15, s. 2020, reiterating that learners and personnel who decide to proceed with their scheduled personal travels to countries with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV shall be subject to mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days.
Moreover, the policy underscores the suspension of all national and regional activities as stipulated in Enclosure No. 2 of DM 15, s. 2020.
DM No. 019, s. 2020 – Amendment to DepEd Memorandum No. 011, s. 2020
The amendment dissolves the Policy Group and designates the Quick Response and Recovery Team (QRRT)-nCoV to lead in responding to the 2019-nCoV situation in DepEd. The composition and functions of the Task Force are also amended.
DM No. 015, s. 2020 – First Set of Policy Directives of the DepEd Task Force COVID-19
This policy, which is for the information and guidance of DepEd officials, personnel and staff at the Central, Regional and Division Offices and schools nationwide, stipulates the measures for the Prevention and Control of the 2019-nCoV ARD in Basic Education Schools and Offices.
These include travel limitations and restrictions which temporarily bans all official and personal travels to the People’s Republic of China and its special administrative regions following the Presidential directive issued on February 02, 2020.
Official travels of all DepEd personnel and learners previously approved by the Secretary for the month of February 2020 to countries identified to have confirmed cases or persons under investigation for 2019-nCoV are revoked. Personnel and learners coming from travel abroad are required to comply with the prescribed quarantine procedures before returning to work or school.
All national and regional activities involving learners and/or teachers requiring travel and congregation of various schools, divisions, and/or regions are suspended, while all division and district activities that involve the gathering/congregation of various schools are highly discouraged.
The Department shall periodically evaluate the necessity of suspending such national and regional activities, and shall, every Monday and/or when the need arises, announce whether such suspension shall continue, depending on the development of the situation and upon the advice of the Department of Health.
The memorandum also contains the following directives and guidelines on the 2019 nCoV-ARD
- Formation/Activation of DRRM Teams in DepEd Regional Offices, Schools Division Offices, and Schools;
- Operationalizing the Preventive Alert System in Schools (PASS);
- Safety Precautions and Protocols; and
- Guidance for School Administrators to Help Reduce the Spread of Seasonal Influenza in K to 12 Schools
The Task Force, divided into Policy and Operations, is assigned to lead the overall efforts of the Department within the school system in addressing the situation through formulation of policies and development of strategies and action plans.
LIST OF DEPED TASK FORCE COVID-19 MEMORANDA
The enumerated DepEd Task Force COVID-19 Memoranda below are non-exhaustive and were selected based on importance which could be shared for public consumption.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 45, s. 2020 – Invitation to the Online Learning Activities on the Promotion of Child Protection Amidst COVID-19 for Elementary and Secondary Learners
As part of its initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) through the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), in collaboration with the Office of the Undersecretary for Legal Affairs (OULA) and Youth Formation Division (BLSS-YFD), will be conducting online learning activities for elementary and secondary learners. The activities aim to advocate and ensure that children have equal opportunities on protection, health and nutrition, education, child participation and well-being amid COVID-19 pandemic.
The online story telling session for elementary learners entitled “Online Kwentuhan: DRRMSbooklatan” showcases stories in which children can relate with regard to their rights, risks of abuse, and what they can do to protect themselves while they are staying at home due to the Community Quarantine. Meanwhile, the “OKKK! Tambayan (Online Kahusayan para sa Karapatan ng KabataanTambayan)” offers online arts-based activities for secondary learners primarily to (a) empower learners on their roles and contributions to government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic; (b) engage learners on the different current issues affecting them and to come-up with solutions; and (c) develop a resilient youth that shall overcome current and future crises.
The Division DRRM and YFD Coordinators shall identify the School SPG/SSG President or SPED Learner Division Representative who will participate in the Zoom/Google Hangouts meeting. Zoom/Google Meet ID will only be provided to the Division Representative through their Division DRRM and YFD Coordinators a day before the online session.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 44, s. 2020 – DepEd Covid-19 Monitoring App Sign Up Page
To facilitate ease of access and to resolve issues regarding incorrect passwords and difficulties in logging-in to the DepEd COVID-19 Monitoring App, a user sign up page has been deployed into the system. All preregistered Single Sources of Truth (SSTs) at the school level are instructed to follow these instructions:
- Go to https://mobileapp.deped.gov.ph/users/sign_up and enter your active email address, full name, contact number, school information, and password.
- Your email must contain the domain @deped.gov.ph. All SSTs who do not have a DepEd Email account may use their personal email but are required to coordinate with their local IT officers for the issuance of a DepEd email account.
- Check your email for “Confirmation Instructions”, click “Confirm my account”, and wait for the “Welcome to DepEd Mobile App” approval email within 24 hours.
For feedback, questions, and clarifications, please contact our Facebook Chat Support, available from Sundays to Saturdays, 8AM to 9PM, through https://www.facebook.com/DepEd-Mobile-App-114296006926914/ and via DepEd Workplace at https://my.workplace.com/groups/1983150605162375/.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 43, s. 2020 – Participation to Wellness Check Series
The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) and the Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development – Employee Welfare Division (BHROD-EWD) aim to continually provide psychosocial support activities for all DepEd personnel. This is in cognizance to the different types of support needed and the unique responses of individuals relative to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of this, all DepEd personnel are encouraged to participate on the Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service (MHPSS) Amidst COVID-19 Webinar Series for DepEd Personnel, Wellness Check, starting on 15 May 2020 until 11 September 2020. This webinar series can be streamed through DepEd Philippines (www.facebook.com/DepartmentOfEducation.PH) every Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 10:30 A.M.
The first session, Kalma Lang, ‘Ga!, on 15 May 2020 shall cover the importance of establishing routines, identifying positive coping strategies, and maintaining work-life balance amidst the pandemic. All personnel are encouraged to ask questions related to the topics as a 40-minute Questions and Answer portion will follow the discussion of our speakers. The schedule of topics can be viewed at http://deped.in/WellnessCheckSeries.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 41, s. 2020 – On the Use of the QR Code System During ECQ
As part of the effort of the DepEd Task Force COVID-19 (DTFC) to strictly impose Social Distancing in the Central Office during the period of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), a “No Contact Policy” has been implemented since 01 April 2020. This policy includes the use of a QR Code System for the authorized skeleton workforce which has also been used as basis for attendance and additional pay for said employees.
Each authorized employee listed in the Special Order issued by the Office of the Secretary has been given a unique QR Code which is scanned upon entry and exit in the Central Office, and organized by staff from the Central Security and Safety Office (CSSO). This has served and will continue to serve as the official attendance and as the basis for the payment of Hazard Pay for authorized employees listed in the Special Order.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 39, s. 2020
With the ongoing national health emergency related to COVID-19 and in support of the national government’s and specifically the Department of Education’s efforts to respond to the crisis, this policy enjoins everyone to ensure the strict enforcement of tobacco control policies that govern DepEd, which includes the following:
- Prohibit smoking and the use of Electronic Nicotine and Non- Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS/ENNDS) – commonly known as vape or ecigarette – within the premises of all DepEd schools and offices;
- Order schools through their respective Child Protection Committees, in coordination with their respective LGUs, to ensure that no tobacco products and ENDS/ENNDS are sold within 100 meters from any point of the perimeter of the school; and
- Warn against unnecessary interaction with the tobacco industry, including the prohibition on sponsorships by tobacco companies and other organizations that receive funds from tobacco companies.
More than ensuring compliance to government issuances, this reiteration is especially made during this crisis primarily for the protection of the health of learners and personnel.
Absolute smoking ban shall continue to be observed in all DepEd offices and schools, especially schools that are being utilized by their respective local government units (LGUs) for COVID-19 response. The ongoing community quarantines across the country may also serve as the best time for DepEd personnel who smoke or use ENDS/ENNDS to quit smoking or ENDS/ENNDS use.
Designated Brief Tobacco Intervention (BTI) Providers of the Regional Offices and Schools Division Offices, per DepEd Memorandum No. 110, s. 2019, especially those who have been trained by the Lung Center of the Philippines, are enjoined to provide the necessary assistance to personnel who are interested to quit smoking.
All schools, through their respective Child Protection Committees, with the technical support of their respective Regional and Division Tobacco Control Coordinators, are enjoined to coordinate with their respective LGUs to ensure that the prohibition on the sale or distribution of tobacco products and ENDS/ENNDS16 within 100 meters from any point of the perimeter of the school is strictly implemented.
All DepEd personnel are also reminded to remain vigilant for any possible interference from the tobacco industry during the community quarantine and the ongoing national response to COVID-19. This includes their possible sponsorship of educational trainings and activities, as well as donations of personal protective equipment and sanitizers, among others, even those coursed through front non- government organizations and foundations.
DO 48, s. 2016 prohibits DepEd officials and personnel from any form of unnecessary interaction with the tobacco industry. As a requirement, partners are required to include a stipulation in the partnership instrument entered to with them (e.g., Memorandum of Agreement, Deed of Donation) that they are not related to or funded by the tobacco industry. Meanwhile, officials and personnel who violate the said provision of the policy may face administrative charges.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 38, s. 2020 – Relaying the RapidPass System Requirements
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Technical Working Group on RapidPass Implementation has released the Accreditation and Authentication Guidelines on the Implementation of the RapidPass System (RPS.)
Although DepEd IDs and Special Orders are enough for mobility, the reality on the ground is that checkpoint personnel still require IATF and/or RPS QR Codes. In order to ensure unhampered movement through checkpoints, it is highly advised that concerned DepEd personnel still apply for RPS, although this is still optional for concerned offices.
Offices who opt to apply for RPS QR Codes are hereby requested to accomplish and submit the required forms by the IATF TWG. Please take note that there are two types of Registration Forms provided:
- For Individuals or Person Records, please ensure that the records in the PERSONS tab have been validated, approved, and passed compliance requirements of your agency or unit.
- For Vehicle Records, the Vehicle Type has two options: PLT for Plate Number OR CND for Conduction sticker, whichever is applicable.
All Excel forms and other references may be accessed through this link: https://bit.ly/DepEdRapidPass.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 37, s. 2020 – Reporting of DepEd Facilities Being Used As Alternative Facility For Any COVID-19-Related Activity Using the DepEd Mobile App
To keep everyone updated and to have concrete basis for informed decisions, all concerned are enjoined to report if their school or DepEd facility is being used as an alternate facility for any COVID-19-related activity.
For this purpose, the DepEd Mobile App will be used in the reporting. The mobile app may be accessed at https://mobileapp.deped.gov.ph, but only by registered Single Sources of Truth (SST) at the school level.
SST must submit reports and details using the attached DepEd Mobile App User Guide for Facilities Tracker – ECQ. This user guide may be accessed or
read at https://bit.ly/DepEdMobileUserGuide.
Consolidated Quantitative Reports at the District, Regional and National Levels will be provided to Execom and Mancom Members, Regional Directors and Schools Division Superintendents through appropriate dashboards which will later on be communicated to concerned offices.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 35, s. 2020 – Updated Classification and Mechanism for the Monitoring of Suspect, Probable, and Confirmed Cases in DepEd
This memorandum stipulates the new classification of personnel and learners to be adopted by DepEd relative to the Department’s surveillance of COVID-19 cases, based on the latest guidelines of the Department of Health (DOH) stipulated in its Administrative Order 2020-0013 with subject Revised Administrative Order No. 2020-012 or “Guidelines for the Inclusion of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the List of Notifiable Diseases for Mandatory Reporting to the Department of Health,” dated March 17, 2020:
- Close contact (not a DOH classification, DepEd internal reporting only)
- Suspect case (DOH classification)
- Probable case (DOH classification)
- Confirmed case (DOH classification)
This also provides an internal guide for DepEd in giving appropriate assistance and/or support to concerned personnel and learners, the current location and current/daily status of close contacts, as well as monitoring of suspected, probable, and confirmed cases:
- Stable: Regardless of classification, the personnel/learner is either not showing symptoms or the symptoms is manageable
- Critical: Regardless of classification, the personnel/learner is in a critical condition and under intensive/critical care
- Tested Negative: The personnel/learner’s (repeat/latest) test result is negative
- Expired: Regardless of classification, the personnel/learner died or is deceased.
The number of close contacts (DepEd classification for internal purposes only/not DOH classification), and suspect, probable, and confirmed cases, as well as the relevant information/details about the confirmed case, and relevant information/details on deaths of suspect and probable cases are the information that need to be reported to the Central Office.
For regional or schools division focal persons who may experience difficulty in accessing data/information from their respective LGUs, Annex D of this policy may be used to effectively communicate to their respective LGUs (Provincial Health Offices/Municipal Health Offices/City Health Offices) the rationale and the legal basis for the data sharing in health emergencies.
Health personnel are enjoined to continue submitting the Weekly Situational Report, on or before 12 noon every Friday, per DepEd Memorandum No. 015, s. 2020, using the updated format attached in this memorandum which incorporates the data requirements for the close monitoring of infectious diseases per OUA Memorandum No. 08-0220-0627 (Annex E).
DTFC-19 Memo No. 34, s. 2020 – Discontinuance of Spraying or Misting Disinfectants and the Use of Disinfectant Booths or Sanitents
This policy enjoins all DepEd schools and offices to immediately discontinue spraying or misting disinfectants, including the use of disinfection booths or sanitents, following warnings of the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) against such practices.
The DOH underscores that there is no evidence to support that spraying of surfaces or large-scale misting of areas, indoor or outdoor with disinfecting agents, kills the virus. The DOH adds that spraying has an additional health and safety concern as it can: (1) cause pathogens to be dispersed further from direct application of a spray; (2) result to skin irritation or inhalation of chemicals and subsequent development of respiratory side effects; and (3) may also cause environmental pollution.
The WHO Philippines clarifies, however, that alcohol, chlorine, and other chemicals can be still be used to disinfect objects based on approved recommendations. Physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth, remain to be the effective measures against contracting the virus.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 32, s. 2020 – Mechanism for the Reporting of PUMs, PUIs, and confirmed cases in DepEd
This memorandum is being issued to provide further details on the mechanism monitoring and reporting of the status of personnel and learners considered as PUMs and PUIs for smoother transmission and consolidation of data and other relevant information.
It also lays down the necessary information that need to be reported to the Central Office and the corresponding process, including the number of PUMs, PUIs, and confirmed cases which shall be consolidated by the designated regional focal person (Health Personnel) from the concerned units at the Regional Office and SDOs.
Furthermore, relevant information/details about the confirmed case and deaths of PUIs/PUMs shall be contained in an official, confidential report signed by the Regional Director (for cases in the RO), or the Schools Division Superintendent (for cases in schools and the SDO).
DTFC-19 Memo No. 27, s. 2020 – Fostering Wellness, Solidarity, and Service Amidst COVID-19
This policy, through the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), intends to provide Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) through Fostering Wellness, Solidarity and Service to promote well-being of learners and personnel in this time of crisis by providing daily prayers, breathing, meditation and grounding exercises, and art-based activities that promote adaptive coping which can be done at home.
The repository of such activities can be accessed at deped.gov.ph/covid-19.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 26, s. 2020 – Letters to COVID-19 Frontliners
To develop empathy and prevent bullying and stigma that can happen with quarantines and lockdowns, this policy encourages children to write letters to the DOH, to doctors, nurses and health workers to thank them for taking good care of everyone.
Apart from our health workers, the letters are also intended for:
- Police and military peace officers
- Sanitation workers (janitors, custodial workers and garbage collectors)
- Essential service providers (employees in the supermarket, food service, and banks)
DTFC-19 Memo No. 25, s. 2020 – Minimum Standards for Social Distancing Baseline Protocols to be Observed in the Workplace Travel and Home and Private Space and Time of Deployed Personnel during the Enhanced Community Quarantine
This memorandum provides the uniform and minimum standards for social distancing within the workplace, during travel, and in private premises and activities. This includes guidelines on work arrangement for personnel on work-from-home and on those part of the skeletal workforce, as well as practical measures for the offices at the DepEd Central, Regional, Division, Facilities and/or Schools while on skeletal workforce.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 021, s. 2020 – Measures for Close Contacts of Confirmed Cases of COVID-19, PUMs, and PUIs for Regional Offices, Schools Division Offices, and Schools
This policy, which localizes DTFC-19 Memo No. 003, s. 2020, provides further information and guidance to DepEd officials, personnel, and staff of regional offices, schools division offices, and schools nationwide on the measures to be undertaken by concerned DepEd learners and personnel following the DepEd internal color-based reporting scheme.
The tasks, roles, and responsibilities of schools, regional and schools division offices, regional/division/school health and nutrition personnel, and regional/division/school DRRM coordinators are also stipulated in the memorandum.
Field DRRM Teams are directed to report daily to the Central Office QRRT, while SDOs shall continue to submit weekly health situation reports to the BLSS-SHD, copy furnished DRRMS, their respective ROs, Local Chief Executives, and City/Municipal/Rural Health Units.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 012, s. 2020 – DepEd Public Service Continuity Plan
This policy enjoins all members of Execom and Mancom, and Heads of Offices to prepare, draft and submit their respective Public Service Continuity Plan (PSCP) which consists of the internal capacities, recovery requirements, and strategies of an agency or institution to ensure the continuous performance of mandates.
Measures must be set in place to ensure the continuity of DepEd essential services and priority programs, while observing the enhanced community quarantine and stringent social distancing measures which set a work from home arrangement for the Executive branch, with the exception of health and essential frontline services.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 006, s. 2020 – Adoption of Video Conferencing System During Community Quarantine Period Due to COVID-19 to continue Operations and Communications
The memorandum directs the Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS) to facilitate the video conferencing system using Microsoft Teams to allow DepEd Officials to continue operations and communications while the community quarantine is in effect.
The ICTS is directed to immediately install the said application in the laptops and mobile devices of DepEd Central Office executives and conduct the necessary simultaneous coaching sessions.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 004, s. 2020 – Travel Advisory for NSPC and NFOT Delegates Still in Cagayan and Isabela
In view of the declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency, and the succeeding suspension of land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila beginning March 15, 2020, 00:00H, this memorandum sets heightened precautionary measures for officials, participants, and attendees of the National Schools Press Conference and National Festival of Talents who are still in Isabela and Cagayan to be able to return home before travel restrictions in the National Capital Region are imposed.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 003, s. 2020 – Measures for Close Contacts of Confirmed Cases of COVID-19, PUMs, and PUIs
These guidelines provide for the corresponding actions that must be undertaken by concerned DepEd learners and personnel following the DepEd internal color-based reporting scheme stipulated in the memorandum. The color coding is based on the Algorithm for Triage of Patients with Possible COVID-19 Infection in Health Care Facilities by the Department of Health.
Personnel and learners who will undergo home quarantine shall follow the procedures based on the DOH Circular No. 2020-0105, s. 2020. All others who have visited places frequented by confirmed cases of COVID-19 are advised to self-monitor and consult with health center or health units for appropriate management and monitoring if showing symptoms.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 002, s. 2020 – Creation of Central Office Task Force COVID-19
This memorandum creates the Central Office Task Force COVID-19 which is responsible for implementing preventive measures in the Central Office, including but not limited to organizing sanitation, disinfecting areas, and setting protocols for personnel and visitors.
The composition of the Task Force includes the Director of Administrative Service (AS) as Chairperson, while the Central Security Safety Office Deputy Chief as the Vice-Chairperson.
Member Offices include the Bureau of Learner Support Services-School Health Division, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service, AS, AS-Asset Management Division, AS-General Services Division, CSSO, and Public Affairs Service.
DTFC-19 Memo No. 001, s. 2020 – Health Related Instructions for NSPC and NFOT
This issuance instructs all concerned officials, participants, and attendees of the National Schools Press Conference and National Festival of Talents to minimize the risk of contracting the virus by strictly observing the safety precautions and protocols laid down in the memorandum.
The presence of members of the concerned DepEd Regional and Division Task Forces on COVID-19 and availability of medical personnel 24/7 to attend to the needs of all involved shall be secured.
Close coordination with local government units and local health authorities, especially with the regional DOH Center for Health Development shall also be ensured for possible COVID-19 events that may occur during the course of the activities.
DepEd Task Force COVID-19 is tasked to monitor the situation closely and make informed, coordinated, and proportionate response based on any updated guidelines or advisory by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases headed by the Department of Health.