Mechanical, unreasonable, and counter-productive.
This is how the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (DepEd) described the latest directive of the Department of Education (DepEd) mandating the 100 percent onsite reporting of public school teachers in areas under Alert Level 1.
ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio explained that DepEd’s full adoption of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) order for 100 percent onsite reporting in government agencies is “mechanical and blind obedience to a policy that does not take into consideration the peculiarity of our teachers’ tasks under blended learning and the situation of our public schools which are far different from the many other government offices.”
Given this, the group is calling for the “immediate suspension” of DepEd Memorandum No. 29, s. 2022. ACT said that instead of mandating the 100 percent onsite reporting of public school teachers, DepEd should adopt a more “flexible and responsive” work arrangement for teachers.
ACT said that many local DepEd offices in the provinces have been requiring the “daily physical reporting of all teachers” in their schools.
Basilio lamented that, unlike other government offices, the majority of public schools “do not have a reliable internet connection and enough office equipment to sustain the demands of the teachers’ distance learning duties.”
He added while it is standard for other government offices to have nurses and functional clinics, “most public schools have none” thus, requiring teachers to report to school daily while their students are at home is “unnecessary and unreasonable.”
Basilio pointed out that the work of teachers, by nature, is relatively independent and individualized compared to the more collective nature of the office work of other government employees.
“Teachers should come to school for face-to-face classes and other actual activities that need their physical presence such as for physical meetings, seminars, distribution/retrieval of modules, and parent-teacher consultation,” Basilio said.
“However, it is unreasonable and counter-productive to order them to sit in empty classrooms and do work that they can better accomplish at home where they have already set up their more responsive working stations,” he added.
Basilio also stressed that work arrangements for teachers, at this point when 90 percent of students are still under pure distance learning modalities “should be discussed and determined at the school level, where the school’s actual capacities and plans, and the teachers’ real conditions will be given due consideration.”
Teachers, Basilio clarified, are not “against physical reporting” because for the longest time, “we have been asserting for the safe reopening of schools as we see classroom instruction as the best way for our students to learn, especially now that we are experiencing a severe learning crisis.”
For the group, DepEd should focus on “hastening the preparation and providing for the needs of safe school reopening so that teachers and students alike can safely go back to school” instead of issuing “premature” orders for 100 percent onsite reporting of teachers.