Teachers might not have a choice but to get vaccinated against COVID-19 especially if face-to-face classes are to resume in the country.
This was disclosed by Department of Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan during a Senate hearing on Wednesday, February 24, on updates about the pandemic’s impact to the basic education system, which included preparations for the return of face-to-face classes.
“I presume that it is not going to be completely a matter of choice in so far as teachers will be concerned, especially if it will be part of the protocol of the resumption of a generalized face-to-face classes,” Malaluan said.
Before this, Senator Nancy Binay inquired if the DepEd has already conducted a study about the willingness of teachers to get inoculated against the novel coronavirus disease.
“Kasi nga, ‘yong mga lumalabas na reports, mukhang hindi maganda ‘yong numero doon sa mga gustong magpabakuna (Because based on reports, the numbers on those who are want to get vaccinated are not pretty),” she noted.
“It would be good to know if may ganong problema din tayo sa atIng mga teachers pagdating sa pagpapabakuna (we have the same problem among our teacher when it comes to the vaccination),” she added.
Malaluan said the DepEd could conduct a survey to determine the stand of teachers about the government’s upcoming vaccination program, although he noted that teachers are already being educated about it.
“Our teachers has (sic) been engaged by the Department of Health in the public’s awareness on the vaccination for the general public. So we can assure you that there is, especially if this is part of protocol for the resumption [of face-to-face classes],” he said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian appealed to the DepEd to press the government to bring teachers higher in the priority list for the vaccinations. He mentioned Indonesia, which put teachers at the top along with other public workers.
“By vaccinating teachers, parents will have that comfort level that their children will be safe inside school,” he pointed out.
“I would recommend to DepEd to lobby very hard to include our teachers in the priority list. If we are looking at opening our classes come August and the vaccine rollout will commence — I know starting March, but the bulk of the vaccine will come July — then therefore teachers should be included in the priority list so that we can open schools right away come August,” Gatchalian said.
According to the latest priority list released by the government, teachers will be vaccinated after frontline health workers, senior citizens, persons with comorbidities, uniformed personnel, and indigent population.
President Duterte rejected anew the holding of in-person classes pending the rollout of the vaccinations. His spokesman Harry Roque said that face-to-face classes might resume in August for areas with low COVID-19 cases.