By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday clarified that not all teachers and staff are required to physically report to their work following the issuance of revised alternative work arrangement (AWA) guidelines amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.
DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan, during the Laging Handa virtual public briefing, said that safety of teachers and staff remains the priority of the agency.
“We have safety measures in place and we issued guidelines on AWA based on omnibus guidelines of Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) interim guidelines on work arrangement in the state of public health emergency,” Malaluan explained.
In the revised AWA, Malaluan said the options depend on the local situation. Skeleton work forces and work-from-home (WFH) arrangements are being implemented. “We implement a 50 percent maximum workforce complement regardless of the quarantine classification,” he said.
Currently, Malaluan said that WFH and work-in-the-office arrangements are intermittent. “Those who claim that we are asking to report all teachers in the revised AWA, that is not true because there is a limit and there’s an intermittent workforce taking into consideration the local situation – particularly transportation systems available in the localities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Malaluan noted that DepEd is eyeing to issue within the week the required health standards for teachers and other personnel. “We are about to re-issue already the required health standards which include support mechanisms for those who will be going back to work and there’s also a testing protocol included and to be adopted,” he added.
The required health standards to be issued, Malaluan said, will complement the revised AWA for the DepEd and will help ensure the safety of officials, teaching and non-teaching personnel amid the COVID-19 situation in the country.
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines urged the Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday to suspend its work order requiring teachers to physically report to schools without health and safety measures after receiving reports from teachers in 14 regions that they were made to “physically report” on Monday, June 22, “without support nor protection against COVID-19 infection.”
Given this, ACT is urging DepEd to put on hold its work order pending the dispensation of sufficient safety and viability measures. ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio alleged that some teachers – including those who are pregnant, of senior age, and with pre-existing conditions – were made to physically report to work without provisions for safe transportation, “only to find that many of the schools were not compliant to minimum health standards.”
Citing reports of teachers coming from different divisions and regions – except the National Capital Region (NCR), Region XII, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) – ACT noted the lack of health protocols such as health check and screening, physical distancing set-up, and absence of foot baths, hygiene kits, and any kind of personal protective equipment.