Stricter enforcement of health protocols, alternative work arrangements in public schools sought

Stricter enforcement of health protocols, alternative work arrangements in public schools sought
In this Oct. 13, 2020, photo, Sen. Win Gatchalian leads a hearing on the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Energy.
Released / Mark Cayabyab, Office of Senator Win Gatchalian

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Win Gatchalian on Thursday called for the stricter enforcement of the education department's alternative work arrangements and health protocols, citing reports of COVID-19 infections among teachers and students which surfaced less than a week after the classes opened. 

"We need to ensure their safety in their work and in case they get sick, we must ensure that they receive immediate medical assistance," Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said in Filipino. 

DepEd last Thursday confirmed that ten high school teachers and two students from Ilagan City, Isabela contracted coronavirus. 

"Since tasks such as the printing and distribution of [self-learning modules] put teachers and non-teaching staff at risk, they should be equipped with 'back-to-school' essentials such as masks, face shields, and personal protective equipment (PPE)," a statement released by the senator read. 

"Should teachers and staff contract COVID-19, their health care needs should be given immediate attention," he added. 

DepEd clarified earlier reports that the teachers contracted the virus while distributing learning modules, saying that they tested positive while attending a meeting at their school on September 21. The department added that it is unclear how the two students contracted the virus. Ilagan City is under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until October 16. 

Gatchalian cited DepEd Order No. 011 s. 2020 which identifies alternative work arrangements such as work-from-home, skeleton workforce, four-day workweek and staggered working hours.

"Now that the class has started, we should pay more attention to the health of every teacher and non-teaching staff especially as they serve as frontliners in the implementation of distance learning in the middle of the pandemic," he said in Filipino.

While schools and DepEd offices in areas under modified general community quarantines may resume full operational capacity, Gatchalian stressed that in GCQ areas, such as Metro Manila, personnel reporting to schools and DepEd offices should not exceed 50%. 

"Under its required health standards, DepEd is also tasked to coordinate with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and work out a possible institutional arrangement," he said, adding that this arrangement should already be operational. — Bella Perez-Rubio

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SCHOOL YEAR 2020-2021

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 12, 2022 - 10:42am

Follow this thread for updates on when classes will resume, and how those classes will be conducted.

Photo: Students wearing protective face masks have their temperatures taken while entering their college campus in Manila on January 31, 2020. AFP/Ted Aljibe

July 12, 2022 - 10:42am

DepEd says School Year 2022-2023 "shall open on Monday, August 22, 2022, and shall end on July 7, 2023. It shall consist of 203 school days or as may be determined by further issuance/s in case of changes in the school calendar due to unforeseen circumstances."

April 18, 2022 - 10:11am

Sen. Nancy Binay calls on the Commission on Higher Education and the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 not to "burden" students over requirements for face-to-face classes.

Higher educations students are being required to present medical insurance and other documents before participating in face-to-face classes.

“This is a cumbersome and unnecessary requirement para sa college students, considering that by law, all Filipinos are automatic members of PhilHealth. Sa totoo lang, 'di kailangang dagdagan ang proseso, dapat nga mas simplehan pa,” Binay says.

November 12, 2021 - 9:10am

The Department of Education announces that it will increase the number of participating schools in the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes.

"The expansion of the number of pilot schools will allow a greater degree of experience among all our regions that will serve us well for the expanded phase of face-to-face classes," DepEd says.

November 10, 2021 - 6:56pm

COVID-19 immunization has started for tertiary students in Ilocos Norte as part of the massive vaccination campaign of the Commission on Higher Education. 

This in preparation for the reopening of in-person tertiary classes, CHED-Regional Office 1 said as a ceremonial vaccination of students at Mariano Marcos State University was held on Monday in collaboration with the Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, the provincial government and Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center. 

About 800 students are expected to be inoculated through the CHED immunization drive. 

Prior to this, MMSU had already vaccinated 75% of its student population. — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao

September 28, 2021 - 8:13pm

President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized limited face-to-face classes for the following programs: 

  1. Engineering and Technology programs
  2. Hospitality/ Hotel and Restaurant Management
  3. Tourism/ Travel Management
  4. Marine Engineering
  5. Marine Transportation

Commission on Higher Education Chairman Popoy De Vera, who made the announcement, said the authorization applies to "degree programs that require hands-on experience in higher education institutions under Modified General Community Quarantine."

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