Teachers' group: DepEd should consult science, health agencies on class opening schedule

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 22 2020 01:50 PM | Updated as of Apr 22 2020 05:22 PM

MANILA - A teachers' rights and welfare group on Wednesday urged the education department to base its decisions on the opening of classes on consultations with science and health agencies instead of the opinion of its stakeholders.

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday ended an online survey, consulting its stakeholders — including parents and teachers — on the opening of classes and other policies.

"Kinikilala namin ang hakbang ng DepEd upang kunin ang opinyon ng stakeholders nito ukol sa pagbubukas ng klase ngunit hindi survey ang dapat maging batayan nito kundi ang situwasyong pangkalusugan kaugnay ng COVID-19," the Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) said in a statement.

(We recognize the DepEd's efforts to get its stakeholders' opinion on the opening of classes but this should depend on the health situation on COVID-19 and not on a survey.)

"Ang mga ahensiyang pang-agham at pangkalusugan ang nasa posisyon upang magbigay ng pagtataya at rekomendasyon kung kailan ligtas nang magbukas ng klase," it said.

(Science and health agencies are in the position to give recommendations on when it would be safe to open classes.)

The group added it would support the DepEd's measures to ensure continued education of students during the coronavirus crisis.

"Gayunpaman, kung sakaling kakailanganin ang distance learning, dapat matiyak na ito'y episyente at accessible sa lahat," the group said.

(Nevertheless, if distance learning will be necessary, it should be ensured it would be efficient and accessible to everyone.)

Education Spokesperson Annalyn Sevilla said the survey was not the sole basis to decide on the schedule of the opening of classes.

"It's one of the several consultation and processes we have been doing," she said.

The result of these consultations will be presented to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, which includes the Department of Health, for further discussion, according to Sevilla.

The department earlier said "any decision we will make for the continuation of learning" will have the health, safety and well-being of learners, parents, and teachers as a primary consideration.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Tuesday said the department was leaning towards opening the next school year in August, based on consultations.

The head of a think tank from the University of the Philippines also suggested that class suspensions until the end of the year could help slow the spread of the new coronavirus disease.