Unclear guidelines for school opening put teachers at risk too, group says
President Rodrigo Duterte in an address aired late Monday night categorically rejected resumption of classes unless a vaccine against COVID-19 is found.
The STAR/Boy Santos, File

Unclear guidelines for school opening put teachers at risk too, group says

(Philstar.com) - May 27, 2020 - 6:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — Unclear government guidelines on schools opening mere days before the start of enrollment leaves teachers in limbo, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said.

President Rodrigo earlier this week categorically rejected the resumption of classes unless a vaccine for COVID-19 is in place, but hours later, his spokesperson Harry Roque said this only means that face-to-face classes will not be held until August 24—the designated day for schools opening.

In a radio interview earlier Wednesday, Roque said the next school year will still open on August 24, and the month-long enrolment will proceed as set on June 1.

But ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio noted that this “discord” among government puts teachers in “restless limbo” and only shows that “the country is not actually ready to open schools.”

“As such, we fear that the unpreparedness and premature decisions may put to risk the lives of teachers, staff and parents,” Basilio added.

Lack of preparation

ACT, a group for education sector workers, also noted that the Department of Education has yet to address teachers’ concerns on enrollment. These include lack of laptops and access to the internet. They are also concerned about enrolment procedures for students/parents without internet and computer access.

The group also said that teachers are anticipating that they would be called on to work onsite “despite the lack of mass testing.”

“These are the realities on the ground. DepEd’s lack of clear guidelines, arrangements, and provision of requisites to make virtual reporting possible, the agency may be putting teachers in harm’s way amid a still uncontained pandemic,” Basilio said.

Parents and students who may have to go to the schools also risk contracting and spreading COVID-19, he added. “What is the government’s plan on these very real and dangerous possibilities?”

DepEd must clarify

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition, for its part, said DepEd must step in and clarify on issues surrounding the incoming school year.

Noting the conflicting statements from Duterte and Roque, TDC said this may onl mean that the president himself is not convinced with DepEd’s plan or is confused.

“Kung paanong hindi rin malinaw sa publiko, lalo na sa mga magulang at ibang guro ang mga pahayag ng DepEd (In the same way that it isn't clear to the public, DepEd policies are even more confusing to parents and some teachers),” TDC said in a separate statement.

The group called for consultation or dialogues with teachers, parents and learners so the issues may be ironed out at the soonest. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from The STAR/Janvic Mateo

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