• Melo Acuna

Teachers' groups call on DEPED to reconsider order for teachers to report on June 1

Teachers’ groups air serious concerns on teachers’ and pupils’ safety; Malacanang says school opening date may be reset

MANILA – The Alliance of Concerned TeachersTeacher and the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition called on the Department of Education to reconsider the call on public school teachers to report for work on Monday, June 1,2020 because of health and safety concerns.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, ACT Secretary General Raymond D. Basilio said there is no doubt teachers will be at the frontlines of education. However, opening schools sans indication that the pandemic is already over puts almost everyone at risk.

He said as COVID-19 positive cases and mortality figures continue to rise against the backdrop of the government’s healthcare system in crisis, it would be better for the leadership to do mass testing and do a amore serious contact tracing.

He said some 2.5 million workers were displaced by the lockdown and their children are in their most trying times. The children face the threat of dropping out of school as their parents try to cope with the household’s basic requirements.

The teachers’ party list said their members will take the brunt of the coming school opening as DepEd Order No. 7 requires them to work for longer period, to render service two months before the school opening and during weekends during the school year. They also expressed concern over the majority’s lack of access to new technology. There are teachers from the private schools who stand to lose jobs as a number of these institutions will close due to dwindling enrolment and eventual transfer to the already stressed public school system.

The ACT presented a five-point agenda for the DEPED to consider which include the call for a comprehensive medical and socio-economic response to the COVID-19 crisis; appropriating funds to establish health and safety measures at the school level, ensure access to quality education, protection for education workers’ labor rights and provision for benefits and the conduct of democratic consultations with teachers, parents and learners.

Teachers Dignity Coalition said most parents and teachers are “wary of the posturing that things would be easy under the ‘new normal’ condition.” In a statement, questions have filled the Department of Education’s social media pages with questions on common concerns from stakeholders, specially o the accessibility and effectivity of online or distant learning and the safety of children and school personnel in face to face or physical schooling.

The TDC called for consultations among the stakeholders for effective program implementation.

During a later press briefing at Malacanang Palace, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque explained it’s not mass testing but expanded targeted testing.

Asked if there are enough funds to answer the expected increase in students in the public school system, Secretary Roque said the Department of Education has not requested for additional funds and if they every do, the government will provide.

He explained the reported school opening in August 24 may still change depending on the prevailing health conditions during that time. (Melo M. Acuña)


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