Instead of insisting that the recorded coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases involving its teachers and personnel are “not work related,” a group urged the management of the Department of Education (DepEd) to release data and provide readily available assistance to infected employees.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), a 30,000-strong group, maintained that part of DepEd’s responsibility to its personnel is to provide assistance especially to those who are in need.
“Whether they acquired the virus through community transmission or even at home does not change the fact that they are teachers, and the DepEd, their employer has responsibility over them,” TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas said. “They serve the government as front liners of education service, which made them even more prone to infection,” he added.
Basas is reacting to a recent statement from DepEd saying that the reported cases of five Isabela teachers who succumbed to COVID-19 were not work-related.
He also shared that their office is receiving reports that many teachers from Region II have been tested positive for the dreaded virus. This prompted the TDC to seek the complete data of COVID situation in the department through a letter addressed to Secretary Leonor Briones on April 7.
“Kailangan nating malaman kung ilan na sa ating mga guro at kawani ng DepEd ang nahawaan ng COVID-19 at kung bakit sila nahawa? Maaari kasing nahawa sila dahil sa physical reporting, home visitation at face-to-face meetings and seminars na iniuutos sa kanila (We need to know how many of our teachers and DepEd staff have been infected with COVID-19 and why they were infected? It could be that they were infected because of the physical reporting, home visitation and face-to-face meetings and seminars that they were asked to do),” Basas said.
Citing Section 22 of a vintage Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, Basas said noted that “ensuring healthcare for our teachers, even hospitalization and treatment is a mandate of the DepEd, with or without this pandemic.”
Likewise, TDC also urged the DepEd management to conduct an investigation, if needed, to ensure that those who violated the existing rules will be held accountable.
“Pero sa ngayon, kailangang mabigyan muna ng agarang suportang pinansiyal at medical ang mga nahawaan ng sakit, work-related man o hindi. Obligasyon ito ng DepEd at hindi lamang opsiyon, lalong hindi kawanggawa (But for now, those infected with the disease, whether work-related or not, must first be given immediate financial and medical support. This is DepEd’s obligation and not just an option, especially not a charity),” Basas ended.