/ 29 July 2020

A TEACHERS’ group has asked the Department of Education why the health protocols are not being implemented strictly for the school teachers, especially in areas where Covid19 infection is prevalent.

“This pandemic is a serious threat to life and safety of our teachers, thus, the DepEd should take this seriously as well,” Teachers’ Dignity Coalition Secretary-General Emmalyn Policarpio said in a statement.

After receiving reports from its members that certain frontliners in the education sector have been tested positive of the coronavirus, the TDC took swipe at the DepEd leadership for not exerting enough effort to minimize the exposure of the teachers to the threat of Covid19.

“We abhor the failure of the education higher-ups to act swiftly on reports that many field officials are requiring the teachers to report physically to their schools despite the fact that the DepEd has set as the default a work-from-home arrangement,” said the TDC.

“After the DepEd central office has released an order, several memoranda and clarifications up-on clarifications, some field officials still require their teachers to go to school and we never missed to remind the department officials of this, in many different ways,” Policarpio stressed.

The TDC, however, acknowledged the formal reply of the DepEd to its letter reiterating the request for a definite instruction to clarify the intention of the department Order No. 11, s. 2020 or the alternative work arrangement. In its reply addressed to Policarpio, the DepEd central cffice, through Usec. Revsee Escobedo clarified the following:

  1. The work from home (WFH) set-up is the default scheme which will be used especially for teachers whose main task is to facilitate classroom learning, even in areas considered as low-risk;
  2. The physical or on-site reporting is non-mandatory and shall be done in consultation with the personnel involved;
  3. Only those personnel with tasks or functions that cannot be rendered remotely or those in exceptional cases can be considered for physical reporting;
  4. The concerned offices that require physical reporting should provide for transportation services for their employees; and
  5. Physical reporting shall be prohibited for schools that were used as quarantine or isolation facilities.

“The TDC has the same interpretation as the DepEd central office on this matter and we both uphold the intention of the said Order to protect the health, safety and well-being of the learners, the teachers and the non-teaching personnel. The Order also aims to support the overall effort of the government to prevent the further transmission of Copvid19 while ensuring the continuous delivery of education,” Policarpio said in another formal letter addressed to Education Sec. Leonor Briones.

According to Policarpio, her group has been receiving reports of suspected and even confirmed Covid19 cases from teachers. “We have received some information that several teachers who were earlier required to report physically to their schools were eventually tested positive of the coronavirus.

In another report, she added, at least two teachers have reportedly been observed with symptoms of the dreaded disease a day after reporting to their school and are now both suspected cases in their localities and were put in strict isolation.