Gatchalian urges DepEd to assure teachers of health care support

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate basic education committee, is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to give teachers as with non-teaching staff assurance relating to their health care needs, including the cost of treatment should they test positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) prior to distributing self-learning modules (SLMs) for the opening of classes on Oct. 5.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gatchalian emphasized that teachers as with non-teaching personnel are crucial in the roll-out of the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) and it is important for DepEd to inspire confidence among them so they could give their full cooperation in the implementation of distance learning.

“We cannot force teachers to distribute learning modules without giving them assurance on their health and safety concerns. Without assurance, there will be no confidence and without confidence, all of these plans will fail,” Gatchalian said.

DepEd officials revealed during its “national readiness” launch that the agency’s 2020 budget does not cover COVID-19 medication, treatment, or hospitalization of teachers and non-teaching staff.

However, DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla assured that like other government employees, teachers and non-teaching staff are covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

DepEd officials clarified they are collaborating with local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Health (DOH) to put up a referral system for employees needing care and monitoring since the use of DepEd funds is allowed only to secure supplies needed in compliance with minimum health standards.

DepEd officials said there are 598 cumulative cases of COVID-19 from different regions and divisions, while 11 cases are from the Central Office. These figures, however, need to be validated by the DepEd’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Though Gatchalian acknowledged that DepEd’s approximately 900,000 teachers and personnel are covered by PhilHealth when it comes to CoViD-19-related cases, he also emphasized the need for a stronger collaboration with the state-run health insurer for faster provision of health care services.