Thousands of teachers report flu-like symptoms - ACT
MANILA (UPDATE) — A teachers' group on Tuesday called on the government to declare a 2-week "health break" in schools under Alert Level 3 as the country grappled with a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers made the appeal after its chapter in the National Capital Region conducted a survey involving 7,448 public school teachers, which found that 55.1 percent of respondents are experiencing flu symptoms.
"Teachers and students alike are struggling to keep holding classes amid this omicron-driven surge," ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said in a statement, referring to the COVID-19 variant suspected of causing the surge.
"Either we’re sick or we’re taking care of family members who are. It’s only humane to give all of us a break amid this outbreak," he added.
The most common symptoms experienced by NCR teachers are colds (46.6 percent) and coughs (44.5 percent), ACT said, citing its survey.
ACT said teachers have also reported a drop in class participation "due to many students also having flu."
"This time should be 100 percent dedicated to getting better and thus should not be utilized for asynchronous classes nor for webinars or whatnots," Basilio said.
ACT believes a 2-week break would be sufficient since it is equivalent to the number of required quarantine days for COVID-positive patients.
The group's survey also showed that 76.2 percent of the teachers "have not received medical support, any leeway at work, or financial aid."
As of writing, the Department of Education has yet to respond to ABS-CBN News' request for a comment.
In higher education, colleges and universities decide on the declaration of "health breaks," said Commission on Higher Education Chairman Prospero De Vera.
"The policy on declaring 'health/wellness/academic breaks' has always been a decision of individual HEIs (higher education institutions), based on [the] health conditions on the ground," De Vera, who is currently battling COVID-19, told ABS-CBN News.
"There is no need for a change in policy," he said when asked if the CHED would declare a nationwide "health break."
Last week, several HEIs and private schools announced class suspensions from Jan. 10 onwards, citing the rise in COVID-19 cases.
The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) said the class suspension period should be used to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination among students and school personnel.
"School closures will not be the answer... we have to focus more on vaccination," COCOPEA Managing Director Joseph Noel Estrada said in an interview.
NCR and its surrounding provinces, where majority of the new COVID-19 cases come from, are under Alert Level 3 until Jan. 15.
Under Alert Level 3, in-person classes are prohibited in basic education, with students studying through distance learning modalities. Meanwhile, HEIs are allowed to hold face-to-face instruction at 30-percent capacity.
The Philippines reported 33,169 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, the third straight day that the country had record-high daily cases.
— With a report from Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News