The school opening date for the upcoming school year is a very sensitive topic for teachers who, according to a group of education workers, have been working for “13 straight months without a break.”
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Friday, May 7, said that the opening of classes for the School Year (SY) 2021-2022 should not be earlier than September 13 to give teachers a time to rest.
“It is already too much that teachers are made to work for 13 straight months in the current school year, and shortening their much-needed break after the taxing first year of distance learning is just plain abuse,” said ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio.
ACT made this call after DepEd said that opening the next school year in September is also an “option” that the agency is currently taking into consideration.
DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio, on April 27, initially said that the tentative date for SY 2021-2022 school opening is on Aug. 23.
However, this announcement drew criticisms from stakeholders.
This prompted DepEd to issue a clarification saying that the Aug. 23 school opening is just a proposal and that the final decision on school opening matters will be coming from President Duterte.
DepEd also clarified that it is preparing for various possible scenarios for the opening of SY 2021-2022 in light of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country.
For ACT, one of the foremost considerations on school opening is the current situation of teachers.
Before the opening of classes, Basilio said that teachers should be able to to complete first their “rightful 80 days proportional vacation pay (PVP) in a school year” – that includes Christmas break and vacation between school years.
To date, Basilio said that the DepEd has to recompense the 77 days of overtime work that it had imposed on teachers under the extended school year – asserting that the government as the employer of public school teachers should abide by the labor laws.
“It is either they pay our teachers with 25 percent of daily pay for each day of overtime work, or convert such to more rest days, which is equivalent to 19 day – with this, opening of the next school year can be scheduled on Oct. 4,” Basilio said.
Teachers have been asking the government to help them as the distance learning set-up this school year takes a toll not only on their health but on their finances as well.