NCR quarantine status should not be basis for face-to-face classes proposal

Strong and preventive measures in schools should be considered, and not Metro Manila’s quarantine status, as basis in allowing limited face-to-face interaction among students on campus.

This was the call of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines to the Department of Education - National Capital Region (DepEd-NCR) and Central Office following its plans to formally seek permission to conduct face-to-face classes when Metro Manila is placed under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

ACT expressed its concerns through the agency’s regional director, Malcolm Garma, who is also a member of the regional Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

“While we agree that socialization is vital in children’s development, it shall not come at the cost of their health and safety. Hence, the proposal shall be based on the adequacy of preventive measures against COVID-19 in schools, not on quarantine classification, which frankly is nothing but a joke. Its imposition is less about the government’s success in fighting the pandemic, but more about the country’s desperation to cushion the economic impacts of the lockdown,” criticized ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

NCR remains under GCQ until at least Oct. 31, with the region still considered the epicenter of the outbreak in the country.

The group reiterated that the present minimum health standards by DepEd are sorely lacking, even in NCR where ACT’s regional union successfully negotiated with the DepEd’s local office the establishment of protective and preventive measures for school opening. 

Among the major gains of the union was the inclusion in a regional memorandum of pre-onsite reporting health screening among employees. Ground reports confirm, however, that this has not been widely implemented.

ACT urged the DepEd and the IATF to aggressively install vital health and safety measures in schools, “so students’ developmental needs can be met without sacrificing their health.”

The group reiterated its demands for school safety, which will require considerable resource allocation that ACT asserts can be provided with “proper prioritization.”