Effective pandemic response needed to enable safe school reopening, gov’t told

Published January 14, 2022, 8:24 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

To ensure the safe reopening of schools amid the pandemic, a group of education workers on Friday, Jan. 14, urged the government to come up with a better and more effective response.

(Photo from Unsplash)

“Our ultimate goal is for our schools to finally be able to reopen safely so that we can effectively overturn the learning loss under the distance learning,” Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Secretary-General Raymond Basilio said in a statement.

“For this to happen, we need a relative level of control on the spread of the pandemic, which obviously the government is sorely failing on,” he added.

For ACT, the recent pronouncements and policies of the government “further undermines” the country’s pandemic response.

Given this, the group also urged the government to ram up the test-trace-treat strategy as well as speed up the vaccination program — especially in rural areas to control the Omicron surge and lay down the conditions for safe school reopening.

“We need screening testing for school reopening,” Basilio said.

He also called for better health measures in schools and the provision of health protection and benefits to teachers and employees to ensure safe school reopening.

“We need school nurses and better-ventilated classrooms. Our teachers need sick leave benefits and hazard pay. We all need treatment support,” Basilio said.

These measures, he added, “have long been proven by many countries to be key to a successful reopening of schools and education continuity.”

Furthermore, ACT reiterated that effective pandemic response from the government is the “more substantial solution to alleviate the country from the crisis” and allow safe school reopening.

Basilio added that more substantial pandemic response measures such as mass testing, extensive contact-tracing, accessible treatment, equitable vaccination program, and economic aid remain “important and urgent.”