Amid the ongoing public health situation brought by the pandemic, a group of education workers reiterated the need to provide teachers in public schools with sick leave benefits.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, underscored the need to provide public school teachers with sick leave and “other such leave benefits enjoyed by all other tenured employees both in the public and private sector.”
Citing its monitoring, ACT said over 50 percent of teachers in the National Capital Region (NCR) are experiencing flu symptoms as of Jan. 11.
ACT said that the country is experiencing the “worst” coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the country. This prompted the government to place various areas with high COVID-19 infections — including Metro Manila — to Alert Level 3 status.
The ACT NCR Union, which initiated the said survey, revealed the “sickly state of thousands” of teachers in the region. This was also the basis of the group when it called for a two-week health break for teachers as well as the students.
As a response, the DepEd Central Office released a memorandum authorizing regional and schools division offices to declare a suspension of classes in their respective areas.
Following the release of the said memo, DepEd regional offices in NCR and Region IV-A declared suspension of classes and other teaching-related activities.
While ACT welcomed the move, it reminded DepEd that the break should be “absolutely used for rest and recovery.” This, the group added, should not be used as a basis to extend the current school year.
“There are 209 class days for this school year, 200 of those can be deemed as contact time—otherwise known as Teaching-Learning Days (TLDs)—which gives us 20 more days than the generally prescribed 180-day contact time by DepEd,” ACT NCR Union President Vladimer Quetua said.
He added that two weeks of health break would only mean 12 days less — leaving the schools still with 188 days of contact time.
“It’s entirely doable and will not sacrifice the youth’s chance at education,” he said. “Denying it, on the other hand, will have serious effects on the quality of teaching and learning,” he added.
Meanwhile, the group also called for the approval of ACT Teachers Partylist’s House Bill 5349 to provide for the granting of 30 days of paid sick leave to teachers under DepEd.