Hold off school opening, local execs urge DepEd

Private teachers, personnel appeal to Congress for aid, wage subsidy

The Department of Education (DepEd) should hold off school opening this month until improved measures are in place to protect both teachers and students amid the pandemic, local chief executives urged.


“Maybe when that is resolved, maybe when that is clear, I think that’s a good sign to start already,” Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) president and Quirino Gov. Dakila Carlo Cua said on Thursday during an interview over CNN Philippines.

Cua cited that “some governors do believe it should be taken a second look upon so more intelligent, more in-depth look could be taken.”

With this, the governor urged DepEd to listen to the concerns of teachers “about their health, the logistics of bringing the modules to the household and collecting them centrally into one location forprocessing.”

Since DepEd intends classes to be a blended learning experience using various medium, including online, radio and television, Cua expressed concerns of getting some students to schools.

“Pagka ang isang school nagkaroon ng outbreak ng COVID-19 (when there is a COVID-19 outbreak in schools), it is impossible for any school, for DepEd to impose quarantines and isolations on students kasi kailangan nila yung magulang nila (Because they need their parents),” he explained.

“Hindi sila pwedeng ilagay sa facility. Pag pinauwi mo sa pamilya yan, magkakahawaan ang pamilya (The children can’t be placed in facilities. They can’t be sent home because the virus will spread among the families),” he added.

Cua also believes big businesses should be invited to adopt schools or localities in helping provide infrastructure and materials in bringing education to children.

For his part, Cua said Quirino has been talking to the local DepEd in sharing the expenses in getting the education modules as well as conducting webinars to both parents and teachers.

The governor assured the DepEd that it has the support of the country’s local chief executives.

“We should try to find a balance. I do agree with DepEd. Education and learning should not stop, it should go on. The children need it. The students have to pursue their growth and development,” he stated.

However, Cua stressed that the nothing can replace the lives of people.

“We need to push both health and education but, push comes to shove, if you ask us and the local chief executives, when the health is too much risk, we choose to protect them,” the governor stressed.

Mental stability

While everybody is preparing for the school opening, Education Secretary Leonor

Briones underscored the need for its officials and other top leaders to be mentally stable as the department braces for the challenges brought about by COVID-19 in school opening this year.

Briones emphasized the need of helping each other as the education system shifts into the “new normal.”

“I thought that we need to assure each other in the department that we are for each other and that we will hold each other’s hands,” she said.

“That we are going to be together because that magnitude of the change that DepEd is facing is so much greater than perhaps what other departments are facing.”

‘Dignified’ aid sought

Meanwhile, private school teachers and personnel on Thursday appealed to Congress for better government aid and wage subsidy in “Bayanihan II.”

As Congress is set to convene in a bicameral session to finalize the provisions of House Bill No. 6953 or the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II), the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Private Schools (ACT-Private Schools), an organization of teachers and nonteaching personnel in the private education sector, called for better support from the government.

Citing reports, the group noted that from March to May – when the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was enforced – a total of 409,757 private school teachers and staff “stopped receiving their regular salaries” under the “no work, no pay” scheme.

The group also noted that 119,819 education workers from 17 regions were also retrenched around the time.

A survey conducted by ACT Private Schools showed that about 94% of its over 4,000 private school teacher respondents all over the country “were not qualified” for government support in “Bayanihan I.”

“While it was our relentless clamor for aid that affected the inclusion of retrenched private school teachers in the proposed Bayanihan 2, we reiterate that a one-time cash assistance of 5–8 thousand pesos will not rectify the past 6 months of state neglect, and will not at all suffice to cover our present needs,” ACT Private Schools Secretary-General Jonathan Geronimo said.

“We deserve more than just crumbs from the government,” he added.