Teachers ask for health measures in schools, gov’t aid

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2020 04:28 PM | Updated as of May 19 2020 04:52 PM

Teachers ask for health measures in schools, gov’t aid 1
Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers raise placards indicating their ‘pre-requisites’ that government should meet before opening classes in August.

MANILA — Government should fund and implement a comprehensive plan that aims to guarantee the safety of students, educators and workers from the new coronavirus once they are asked to physically return to schools, a teachers’ rights and welfare group said Tuesday.

In a press briefing, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Secretary General Raymond Basilio reiterated their group’s appeal to the government to conduct COVID-19 testing for teachers before they resume work in June and students who will participate in face-to-face classes starting August.

Basilio clarified that testing in schools would not be for everyone, but only for students and workers who meet a certain criteria, such as those who experience symptoms, were exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case, or belong to the vulnerable population.

The DepEd earlier said it was studying the cost of conducting COVID-19 testing in schools.

Government should ensure adequate sanitation and disinfection facilities, and medical centers with enough health workers, equipment, and medicine, said Basilio, whose group represents 200,000 teaching and non-teaching personnel from across the country.

Hygiene kits should also be distributed to students, teachers and other school workers, he said.

Funds should also be allotted for the free treatment of students, teachers and education workers who may be infected with COVID-19, according to Basilio.

TEACHERS’ NEEDS

Kristhean Navales, president of the Quezon City Public School Teachers Association, asked the government to provide “all the needs” of teachers so they could effectively carry out the alternative learning delivery modes that schools would implement while face-to-face classes are still prohibited. These include gadgets and stable internet connection.

Teachers should also be given internet allowance, Navales said.

Basilio also recommended a hazard pay for teachers who would be physically reporting to schools during the pandemic.

Navales also urged the DepEd to speed up its preparation of instructional and learning materials, and ensure that teachers are properly trained on alternative education delivery modes.

The DepEd earlier said public school teachers would start reporting for work, either physically or virtually, on June 1 to undergo various training in preparation for the upcoming school year.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said Tuesday that teachers would not be asked to appear physically in schools, especially in high-risk areas.

The DepEd also gave schools the freedom to choose which learning delivery modes they would implement for the upcoming school year, depending on the health situation in their locality and available resources.

AID FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL TEACHERS

Basilio and ACT Private Schools Spokesperson Kevin Armingol also called on the government to provide aid to private school teachers whose jobs were affected by the pandemic.

A survey conducted by ACT Private Schools found that 70 to 80 percent of private school teachers have not received their salaries since the pandemic began, according to Armingol.

The DepEd earlier said it was consulting other government agencies to provide cash aid for small private school teachers.

Armingol also said public schools should absorb private school teachers who would lose their jobs because of the pandemic.

Armingol appealed to the government for the immediate release of the Teachers’ Salary Subsidy, which is given to educators in private high schools.

‘DEMOCRATIC CONSULTATION’

Basilio also reiterated his group’s appeal to the DepEd for widespread consultation regarding policies for the upcoming school year.

“Please observe democratic consultations in everything that you do. Nandiyan po, highly organized po ang parents through the parent-teachers associations, organized ang teachers through their unions,” said Basilio.

(Please observe democratic consultations in everything that you do. The parents are highly organized through the parent-teachers associations, teachers are organized through their unions.)

“Tanungin natin sila, alamin natin ang kanilang pagtingin sa mga bagay-bagay para involved sila sa pag-solve sa problemang ito,” he added.

(Let’s ask them, find out their perspective on things so they are involved in solving the problem.)