As more schools announced the resumption of face-to-face classes by next year, a group of education workers on Tuesday, Dec. 14, expressed opposition to the plan of authorities to deploy police forces in the vicinity of schools, colleges and universities.
In a statement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines opposed the plan of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to deploy police near the schools to supposedly secure stakeholders.
“Nurses needed, not cops for safe school reopening,” ACT said.
The group also alleged that the police might be “more of a threat than anything else.”
ACT pointed out the incident in a public school in Pangasinan where armed policemen were photographed distributing modules during the first day of the pilot face-to-face classes in basic education on Nov. 15.
As a response, the Department of Education (DepEd) then reiterated its policy against the presence of armed persons in schools.
For ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio, the deployment of policemen in these areas “will just add to the already daunting tasks of safely reopening schools.”
Instead of police forces, ACT said that health workers in should be deployed in schools and communities participating in limited in-classroom learning.
“What we need are nurses, health workers to not only ensure the implementation of health protocols, but more so to provide medical support and assistance to students and teachers in need,” he added.
ACT said that its opposition to police presence in schools is grounded on “previous offenses” its members have experienced such as the “illegal police profiling of public school teachers” in 2019 and the “continuing police and military seminars” in education institutions where legitimate organizations and its members are allegedly red-tagged.
The group also slammed the police’s “intervention in academic matters” BY pulling out of arbitrarily identified “subversive” books from libraries — among others.
“Now more than ever, we are faced with an enormous challenge of creating an enabling environment in schools for learning. That involves ensuring a safe and democratic space for the free flow of ideas, for dissent, for criticisms,” Basilio said.
Basilio said that educators must stand fiercely against any further intervention from state forces in schools. “We’re still catching up from the grave learning losses after nearly two years of school lockdown, we don’t need another threat in our midst,” he added.
Related to this, the group called on legislators to fund the needs of safe school reopening and blended learning.
In particular, ACT is pushing for the hiring of more school nurses noting that this is a “vital element” to ensuring safety and appropriate medical responses to whatever health issue may arise in the conduct of in-person classes.
ACT said that that this can be done through the budgeting of items for nurses in state colleges and universities (SUCs) and provision of aid to in-need private higher education institutions.
CHED allows limited face-to-face classes for all degree programs in Metro Manila, other areas under Alert Level 2