DepEd: Teachers' deaths from COVID-19 in Isabela not work-related

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
DepEd: Teachers' deaths from COVID-19 in Isabela not work-related
Teachers at Jose Dela Peña National High School in Marikina City undergo webinar training on e-learning on July 21, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education has confirmed that five of its teachers in Isabela died from COVID-19, but said the cases were not work-related.

DepEd was reacting to a report by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers that described the deaths as having showed "the frailty of government's ill-prepared distance learning program" amid the pandemic.

"We offer our sincere condolences to the bereaved families and loved ones of our fellow DepEd workers," the agency said in an April 6 statement, adding that the schools division office in the province is in touch with families for assistance.

It cited results from initial investigation and contact tracting that the teachers acquired the COVID-19 through community transmission outside school. DepEd also attributed it to a recent surge in infections in the province.

Still, it has asked help from the local government of Isabela for better contact tracing and quarantine procedures. The agency added that it has ordered the strict implementation of alternative work arrangements and a halt to in-person activities in schools and offices.

Assistance and aid coming?

Last week, the ACT pressed education officials on aid for teachers who were infected, saying LGUs have extended help but none so far from the agency.

Sought for comment, DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Anne Sevilla said they are covered under assistance and benefits from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and government's Employee Compensation Commission.

"Some of our DepEd filed offices also have their own COVID-19-related initiatives directly catering to those infected," she said in an exchange with Philstar.com, adding that these are charged "either against its own available funds or through partnership with their respective LGU or other external partners."

She added that the ECC has a program for providing government employees with income, medical and other health benefits. Contracting the COVID-19, however, is only compensable if it was acquired during work.

Sevilla was asked if their office would have the numbers on how many DepEd personnel have availed of the said programs, but said it would be hard to identify with teachers assigned nationwide and doing it individually.

There remains no update on an official count of DepEd employees and students who contracted the COVID-19. The last was presented early March before a Senate hearing, where an official said its tally was at 4,468 or 2,830 school personnel and 1,638 students.




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