/ 17 November 2021

THE ALLIANCE of Concerned Teachers urged the Department of Education to learn the lessons in safe school reopening and the importance of Covid19 tests.

ACT issued the statement after three schools in Zambales province cancelled  the holding of face-to-face classes on Monday after some teachers tested positive for Covid19 in an antigen test.

“Weekly screening for face-to-face classes should be a national policy as it would sizably lessen the probability of Covid19 outbreaks in schools. The national government should take the responsibility of funding these tests so that it can be implemented nationwide, even and especially in areas where the local governments have scant resources,” Raymond Basilio, the group’s secretary general, said.

Basilio advised DepEd to review its “knee-jerk position” against antigen testing for learners. He said that the agency can consult health and child psychology experts as well as look into the practice of other countries to have a better-informed position and know the options that are available.

The group also slammed the presence of armed policemen in a school in Pangasinan.

“It is shocking to see, on the other hand, the presence of armed forces in a classroom in Pangasinan. Such is what could be traumatic to students and should not be allowed,” Basilio said.

The DepEd and the local government of Alaminos, Pangasinan issued contradicting statements about the matter.

The education agency said the officers were security escorts of visiting local officials. However, Mayor Brian Celeste said that the officers were part of the security team requested by the school to secure visiting VIPs such as officials of DepEd and the Presidential Communications Operations Office officials.

Basilio warned that “school reopening should not be handled the same way the Duterte government mishandled its whole pandemic response.”