MANILA – A teachers’ group on Monday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to strictly implement alternative work arrangements for teachers as the country battled a surge in coronavirus infections.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) made the appeal following reports that around 30 DepEd employees tested positive for COVID-19 after attending in-person seminars in Zambales province earlier this month.
“Expose na expose po ang mga guro natin sa virus dahil sa iba’t ibang mga gawain gaya ng [face-to-face] seminars at meetings na puwede naman sanang gawing virtual,” TDC Chairperson Benjo Basas said in a statement.
(Our teachers are exposed to the virus because of various activities like face-to-face seminars and meetings that could have been done virtually.)
“Mayroon ding ilang nire-require for home visitation, maliban pa sa distribution at retrieval ng modules,” he said.
(Some teachers are required to visit the homes of their students, aside from the distribution and retrieval of modules.)
What happened in Zambales, Basas said, was not an isolated case because teachers are still obligated to go to schools despite the DepEd’s pronouncement that physical reporting is discouraged.
“Muli po kaming nananawagan sa DepEd na sana ay huwag isugal ang buhay at kaligtasan ng mga guro at istriktong ipatupad ang mga health protocols at ang mismong kautusan nito hinggil naman sa alternative work arrangement,” Basas said.
(We appeal again to the DepEd to not put the lives and safety of our teachers at stake as well as to strictly implement health protocols and its order on alternative work arrangement.)
The DepEd has said it was investigating the seminars in Zambales.
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) pressed the DepEd to release an updated report on the number of personnel with COVID-19.
ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio, in a statement, also asked the department for the course of action that the agency was taking to assist infected teachers and employees.
“With the alarming surge of COVID infection, we are worried about the extent of infection among our teaching and non-teaching personnel,” he said, also citing reports of the infected education workers in Zambales.
Basilio said the DepEd should ensure that teachers and personnel sickened with COVID-19 “have access to free COVID-19 testing, appropriate quarantine facility, and treatment.”
Earlier this month, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan told a Senate panel that the DepEd has recorded 4,468 COVID-19 infections among its learners and personnel.
The DepEd also placed its headquarters in Pasig City on lockdown from March 18 to 24 after several employees were found positive for COVID-19.
The DepEd earlier said the hospitalization and treatment expenses of its personnel who get infected with COVID-19 can be covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
In April last year, Education Secretary Leonor Briones contracted COVID-19 and recovered.
– With a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News