While they consider the move of the Department of Education (DepEd) to allow suspension of classes in high-risk areas, teachers groups on Thursday, Jan. 13, urged the agency to come up with a more “decisive action” on the matter.
For the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, the decision of DepEd to officially allow the suspension of classes of up to two weeks based on the discretion of its regional and division offices was an “initial victory.”
“DepEd’s announcement is a clear recognition of and response to the justness of our call, so that is, in and of itself, a huge win,” ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio said in a statement.
As detailed in Memorandum DM-CI-2022-009 issued by Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio, ROs or SDOs were urged to “exercise discretion” in suspending classes and other teaching-related activities in consideration of teachers’ and learners’ health and well-being” as the country experiences an “alarming surge” in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections.
ACT has been pushing for a two-week health break for teachers and students under Alert Level 3 areas.
Meanwhile, ACT pointed out that the DepEd needs to make a “decisive action” to declare the two-week health break “instead of passing on the decision to local offices.”
ACT said that considering the urgency for a health break declaration and the yet-to-peak Omicron surge, DepEd’s Central Office (CO) must “make the decision themselves and avoid any further delays.”
Basilio said that as of Jan. 12, almost half of the country has been placed under Alert Level 3—most of which are in cities and urban areas—and more may still follow. “Such merits an urgent health break declaration from Secretary [Leonor] Briones,” he added.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) also echoed the same sentiment. The group has earlier urged DepEd to implement a one-week academic break amid the surge in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
“Ang naging tugon ng DepEd ay hindi kasinglinaw ng atin sanang inaasahan (DepEd’s response was not as clear as we would have hoped),” TDC Chairperson Benjo Basas said in a separate statement.
The group lamented that DepEd did not even call the suspension of classes “academic break, health break or academic health break.”
TDC also slammed DepEd for not categorically declaring an academic health break for teachers and students.
“Sa halip na desisyunan ng Central Office, ipinaubaya nila sa field officials ang determinasyon ng hinihinging break sa kani-kanilang nasasakupan (Instead of being decided by the Central Office, they left it to field officials to decide on the break requested based on their jurisdiction),” Basas added.