MANILA (UPDATE) — A teachers' group is asking the Department of Education (DepEd) for an agreement ensuring that the agency would offer assistance in case an educator participating in the pilot implementation of in-person classes gets infected with COVID-19.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) said they are open to holding a dialogue with the DepEd on the matter.
"Upang matiyak ang pananagutan, dapat lumagda sa isang dokumento ang DepEd na tutulong o mananagot ang ahensiya sakaling mayroong mahawahan ng COVID-19 dahil dito (pilot face-to-face classes)," TDC Chairman Benjo Basas said.
(To ensure accountability, the DepEd should sign a document indicating that it will help or be accountable if ever any teacher gets COVID-19 during the pilot face-to-face classes.)
While the pilot implementation is important to see whether the country's education system is capable of returning to in-person schooling, it is also equally important to ensure the safety of students, parents and teachers joining the dry run, Basas said.
In an interview with Teleradyo, Education Assistant Secretary Malcolm Garma said "mechanisms" are already in place for teaching and non-teaching personnel who get infected with COVID-19, such as packages from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
Garma assured the agency would "assist and help our teachers," especially if the cause of their COVID-19 infection was related to their jobs.
"Ang DepEd naman po ay siyempre susuriin po natin 'yong sanhi ng pagkakahawa o transmission ng teacher, ito ba ay job related" Garma said.
(The DepEd will check the source of the teacher's COVID-19 transmission, if it is job related.)
"Then that is when we determine [kung] ano ba ang tulong na puwede nating ibigay sa kaniya. Hindi lang ako makatugon kung ito ba ay monetary or otherwise," he added.
(Then that is when we determine what kind of help will we be able to provide to that teacher. I just can't answer if the assistance will be monetary or otherwise.)
Under the guidelines set by the DepEd and Department of Health, only school personnel who are fully vaccinated against the respiratory illness are allowed to join the pilot implementation, which will take place in up to 120 schools from areas deemed "low risk" to COVID-19.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier said participating schools are required to have a contingency plan in case any student or personnel tests positive for COVID-19.
The hospitalization and treatment of teachers who get COVID-19 are covered by packages from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has proposed for the creation of a "special lane" for school personnel within PhilHealth due to delays in reimbursements.