(UPDATED) More than two months since School Year 2022-2023 opened and saw the return of face-to-face (F2F) classes, almost 4,000 school-aged children have been hit by coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In a press conference, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday, November 4, 2022, said a total of 3,939 school-aged children have been reported to have been infected with Covid-19 between September 1 to November 3.

“There have been a number of infections amongst students during the time that we started gradually opening the schools and having face-to-face classes,” said Vergeire.

She, however, said that all recorded cases were mild infections among adolescents aged 12 to 17.

“We have not registered any severe cases nor any deaths among students because of Covid-19,” said Vergeire.

She said this is the reason why they continue to support the holding of F2F classes in public and private schools.

“It shouldn’t be a hindrance to continue the full implementation of face-to-face classes,” said the DOH officer-in-charge.

Vergeire said they are still in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd) in identifying the number of students who contracted Covid-19 amid attending in-person classes.

Add to this, she said, is the importance of physical presence in schools on the children’s mental health.

“The benefits of face-to-face classes would outweigh the number of mild infections that had been experienced by our students because this is very essential for the mental health wellness of our students,” Vergeire said.

Schools have officially returned to the conduct of limited F2F classes on August 22, two years after the shift to distance learning modality due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The conduct of full F2F classes, where students have to be in school five days a week, resumed on November 2.

Earlier this week, the DepEd began the full implementation of F2F classes in all public schools, while private schools have been given the option to continue blended learning.

The DepEd similarly allowed the voluntary use of face masks in schools and classrooms in accordance with Executive Order No. 7, which scrapped the mask mandate indoors.

The Department of Education earlier said that over 28 million students enrolled for School Year 2022 to 2023. (HDT, TPM/ SunStar Philippines)