Gatchalian bats for regular COVID-19 tests for teachers

Published November 16, 2021, 10:26 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday, Nov. 16 pushed for regular COVID-19 tests for teachers after witnessing the start of the pilot implementation of limited in-person classes in select schools on Monday, Nov. 15.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, made the call after two schools in Zambales postponed the limited face-to-face classes after seven teachers from both schools tested positive for COVID-19 after taking rapid antigen tests.

The senator said it is necessary for the government to consider regular COVID-19 testing of teachers to ensure a smooth transition under the new normal.

“Dapat pag-isipan din natin ang regular na COVID-19 testing ng mga teachers. Pati ‘yung vaccination nila ay dapat nating i-monitor nang mabuti (We need to think of doing regular COVID-19 testing for our teachers. We should also monitor their vaccination),” Gatchalian said during his visit to schools that are participating in the dry run of in-person classes.

“To minimize risks, we need to test. Kaya dapat mapondohan ang testing ng mga teachers at kung may nag-positive man, merong nakahandang suporta para sa kanila (That’s why we need to allocate funds for the testing of our teachers so that should one of them get positive of the coronavirus, they can easily be given financial support,” said Gatchalian.

Gatchalian said the Department of Education (DepEd) should work with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) in creating a special line at the very least for teachers.

He said this would at least help ease the burden on teachers who fall ill with COVID-19 since they have to spend out of pocket expenses first before receiving reimbursements from PhilHealth.

Gatchalian, who is seeking to be reelected in the May 2022 elections, said there is also a need to provide financial support to schools to ensure that adequate public health supplies and facilities for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) would be maintained.

“What we need is support. Kailangang maipaabot natin ‘yung suporta sa mga paaralan sa pamamagitan ng pondo upang makabili pa sila ng mga kagamitan at tuloy-tuloy ang paglilinis ng paligid (We need to provide financial support so they can buy supplies needed to maintain health and safety protocols),” he said.

“Importante sa health protocols ang paglilinis, pagbili ng mga sabon, at paggawa ng iba pang mga pasilidad (It’s important to maintain health protocols by cleaning, buying the soap, and constructing the necessary facilities),” Gatchalian stressed.