MANILA — A teachers' group has called on the Department of Education to extend the work-from-home setup for educators, fearing that physically reporting to offices under new work arrangements would expose them to the risk of contracting of the new coronavirus.
"We are in the belief that requiring teachers to report to school beginning Monday, June 22 is unnecessary, impractical and will just place them and other people in a health hazard," the Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) said in a statement on Saturday.
"Again, we call on [Education] Secretary Leonor Briones to order the field offices of DepEd from regions to schools to halt teachers’ reporting on Monday and extend the work from home arrangement until physical reporting is necessary and possible," the group said.
The work-from-home arrangement for DepEd personnel, including public school teachers, ends on Sunday. New work arrangements decided by the agency's undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and regional directors will be implemented starting Monday.
Teachers have been working from home since June 1 except for those authorized by regional directors to be part of the skeleton workforce that have been physically reporting in offices.
Earlier, the TDC said Emmalyn Policarpio, a teacher from Valenzuela City, had sent a letter to the DepEd, asking for an extension of the work-from-home arrangement.
Policarpio said she and her fellow teachers were ordered to physically report to their offices on Monday despite the lack of plans to provide transportation for those who do not own private vehicles.
The work arrangements that DepEd officials will implement also considers the community quarantine classification in their location, based on a recent department order.
'LAPTOP LOAN' REJECTED
The group also rejected an offer of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to grant loans to teachers so they could buy gadgets for online instruction.
The loan, which amounts to P20,000, will only burden teachers in the future, said TDC Chairperson Benjo Basas.
"The offer from GSIS could only reinforce the culture of borrowing and will just worsen the economic woes of many of our teachers," he said in a statement.
The government should instead provide free laptops to educators, Basas added.
The DepEd is in the process of procuring more tablets, laptops and computers to ensure that all teachers in public schools will be equipped for the new normal in the education sector.
In-person classes have been suspended pending the availability of a vaccine against COVID-19. Schools are set to use online platforms, printed and digital modules, television, and radio when classes formally start in August.
As of Saturday, 13.2 million learners have enrolled in public and private schools nationwide, according to DepEd data.