Teachers worried by DepEd’s ‘incommensurate’ pandemic response

A federation of teachers on Monday expressed concern to the Department of Education (DepEd) on the worsening health crisis in the country and urged the agency to address concerns in its learning continuity plan.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) expressed fear that DepEd’s inadequate response to the pandemic through its Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) -- combined with the worsening joblessness and poverty -- will only result to the furthering of transmission among the population.

This, ACT said it may also lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of children and “even those who have enrolled who may likely drop out later.” Based on the latest data from DepEd as of Aug. 3, there are 22.43 million students enrolled for School Year (SY) 2020-2021. Of this number, 20.99 students enrolled in public schools and 1.40 million registered in private schools.

ACT alleged that DepEd failed to install “substantial and responsive” measures to ensure the safety of personnel, parents, and learners, and accessibility and quality of its BE-LCP. The group cited as evidence the reversion to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) Metro Manila and other places after health workers asked the government to recalibrate its COVID-19 response.

“By all indications, the situation will only worsen towards school opening yet our workplaces remain unsafe and quality education inaccessible to many. So what does DepEd intend to do given this situation?” asked ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

ACT also pressed DepEd to present how its LCP will fare in the face of the developments in the situation. Basilio noted that DepEd’s plans for school year 2020–2021, as announced in May, has “faced doubts and criticisms from the onset for being detached from the present situation and operationally unrealistic among others.”

Despite raising these concerns, ACT alleged that DepEd continued to “ignore” the issues raised by by parents, teachers, staff, learners, and all other concerned groups and individuals.

ACT noted that teaching and non-teaching staff of DepEd are among those thousands of COVID-19 cases in the country - with some already succumbed to the disease. “DepEd has yet to release a timely and comprehensive report on the total number of cases within its agency as well as its efforts to stem the spread and assist those already infected,” Basilio said.