Teachers' group: DepEd decision a ‘win’ but we still need a health break | Inquirer News
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Teachers’ group: DepEd decision a ‘win’ but we still need a health break

/ 02:10 PM January 13, 2022

LET’S FACE IT Ensconced at desks that are far apart and customized with plastic dividers, teachers at Aurora Quezon Elementary School in Manila appear ready for face-to-face classes that, however, will be piloted in 30 schools, instead of 59, outside Metro Manila on Nov. 15. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines — A militant teachers’ organization on Thursday called the Department of Education’s (DepEd) decision to allow its local officials to declare class suspension in COVID-19 stricken areas a “huge win,” but that does not mean that they will give up their demand for a two week “health break” just yet.

Raymond Basilio, secretary-general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), said the current situation of teachers and students under Alert Level 3 calls for a “more urgent action” of imposing two-week “health break” in areas under the said alert level.

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“DepEd’s announcement is a clear recognition of and response to the justness of our call, so that is, in and of itself, a huge win,” Basilio said in a statement.

“However, considering the urgency for a health break declaration and the yet-to-peak Omicron surge, DepEd’s Central Office must make the decision themselves and avoid any further delays,” he added.

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It can be recalled that the National Capital Region (NCR) chapter of ACT revealed that more than 50 percent of teachers in the metropolis exhibited flu-like symptoms according to an online survey they conducted.

Even senators Risa Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian backed the proposal of ACT.

This propelled DepEd into action by releasing a memorandum which allowed the agency’s regional and school division offices to order the suspension of classes depending on the COVID-19 situation in their respective jurisdictions.

Instead of passing down the responsibility to DepEd local offices, ACT-NCR Union president Vladimer Quetua said their organization’s proposal of two-week health break in areas under Alert Level 3 is “entirely doable.”

“There are 209 class days for this school year, 200 of those can be deemed as contact time — otherwise known as Teaching-Learning Days — which gives us 20 more days than the generally prescribed 180-day contact time by DepEd. Two weeks of health break would only mean 12 days less, leaving us still with 188 days of contact time. It’s entirely doable and will not sacrifice the youth’s chance at education,” Quetua explained.

“Denying it, on the other hand, will have serious effects to the quality of teaching and learning,” he added.

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TAGS: Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Department of Education, health break
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