ACT calls for health, safety mechanisms for teachers

A federation of teachers on Tuesday slammed the Department of Education (DepEd) anew for “failing” to institute health and safety mechanisms for its personnel with the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the education sector.

(Photo courtesy of DepEd / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines alleged that three Cebu teachers “were exposed” to COVID-19 while they were tasked to distribute modules among their students. The group revealed this a day after the DepEd announced that there are 823 COVID-19 cases in the department, including students, teaching and non-teaching personnel.

Citing field reports, ACT said that the three teachers in Cebu province “were exposed to a COVID-19 positive parent during the school’s synchronized distribution of modules” last August 18. The group then slammed DepEd’s for its “empty guarantees” on ensuring the health and safety of its personnel and called for safer modes of dispensation and retrieval of the self-learning modules (SLMs).

“These teachers’ direct exposure to an infected parent highlights the risks associated with module distribution, largely due to lack of preventive measures at schools,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio. “Not only does this prove the urgency of the need for DepEd to remedy the weaknesses in its minimum health standards, this also reinforces our demand that DepEd and the national government provide considerable resources to enable the coordinated implementation of enough safety measures," he added.

Basilio said that one of the affected teachers is a regional council member of ACT Region VII Union who requested to be quarantined at school to prevent spreading the virus to their homes should they also test positive. 

“The school principal, however, denied their request as such may lead to further outbreak among other reporting teachers who are busy with module segregation,” he added.

While ground personnel were left to fend for themselves, Basilio said that DepEd allowed half of schools in Metro Manila to be used as quarantine facilities until December.

ACT noted that more teachers and staff report to schools to prepare for resumption of classes on Oct. 5. “If preventive measures will not be put in place, more of DepEd’s already stretched workforce may add to the growing number of positive cases,” Basilio said.