Teachers seek transparency, COVID-19 updates from DepEd

Published July 30, 2020, 3:08 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Following reports that COVID-19 cases are growing among DepEd personnel, a federation of teachers on Thursday demanded transparency and urged officials to provide updates on the COVID-19 situation involving the agency.

ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We are calling on DepEd to divulge timely and accurate reports on COVID-19 cases among its personnel, without compromising their rights to privacy,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

“We have the right to know the extent of infection within our ranks, and to demand accountability where it is due,” he added.

In Metro Manila, ACT said that it has received over 20 reports of infected teachers — 10 in Manila, six from Quezon City, five from Malabon City, and three from Navotas City.

ACT said that three teachers, belonging to the divisions of Manila, Quezon City, and Navotas, were “fatally “ affected by the coronavirus.

ACT also documented two positive cases in the Bicol region and at least 19 in Region 7. Among the cases from Region 7, the group said, three have died from the disease. The group continues to monitor and validate reports from the ground all over the country.

In light of these alarming reports, ACT pressed DepEd for the immediate implementation of the following health measures for the protection of education workers: Health screening and free testing prior to physical reporting; fully subsidized treatment for COVID-19 positive employees; and provision of sick leave benefits to teachers.

“Decisive steps to prevent further spread and respond to the imminent threat of infection among teachers and staff are long overdue,” Basilio said. “DepEd’s negligence has already cost us the health and even lives of our colleagues,” he added.

Basilio stressed that it is “high time” that teachers and other school staff be given due protection and assistance against the raging pandemic.

“We demand accountability from the government through concrete actions in favor of our demands,” he added. “Likewise we denounce some local officials’ attempt to conceal the true conditions of employees and workplaces within their jurisdiction,” he added.

Citing results of a recent survey conducted by the group, Basilio noted that at least 50 percent of the teacher-respondents reported being “compelled to physically report for duty despite surging cases of COVID-19 and the lack of safety and viability measures.”

ACT continues to receive complaints from teachers who are made to render service at school and in learners’ communities and some even had to report to schools that are still being used as isolation or quarantine facilities. “Many of these teachers potentially acquired the virus in the performance of their jobs, while others may have contracted it elsewhere,” he added.