Group says lack of guidelines on health concerns amid pandemic makes teachers anxious

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A federation of teachers has claimed that the lack of clear mechanisms and guidelines to address teachers’ health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic from the Department of Education (DepEd) continue to contribute to the growing anxiety of teachers.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, in a statement, said that the DepEd as well as the Duterte administration are responsible for “enabling a safe working environment and guaranteeing enough benefits and support for its frontliners'' such as education workers.

Less than month before the formal opening of classes on Oct. 5, ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio that these measures are still not in place.

“We’ve been demanding for safety mechanisms and health protection, benefits, and treatment aid for education workers for several months now,” he said. “This should be in place ASAP and it demands concrete and urgent measures from the DepEd Central Office and the President himself,” he added.

The group emphasized its demand on the DepEd to install mechanisms that will ensure the provision of appropriate and sufficient assistance to public school teachers and non-teaching staff who had been exposed to COVID-19 as well as to guarantee ample preventive measures in schools. “The Duterte government, on the other hand, were called to warrant such by means of granting DepEd adequate funding,” he added.

Meanwhile, ACT slammed “false accounts” on DepEd’s handling of the case of three Cebu teachers who were exposed to a COVID-19 positive parent on Aug. 18 during module distribution as reflected in a Sept. 1 memorandum from the Schools Division Superintendent to the three. The concerned teachers submitted a joint response to the memorandum on Sept. 10.

“Instead of care and support, the three teachers received what sounded like a scolding letter from the SDS calling their attention to the alleged ‘spread of conflicting information,’ which they were to shed light on,” Basilio said. “This caused further anxiety among our teachers who were already put in harm’s way due to DepEd’s weak protocols, and to this day have received very minimal assistance from the agency,” he added.