Tell it to SunStar: Did DepEd violate own memos?

AS a department that provides proper education and safeguarding its learners, Department of Education (DepEd) released a memorandum providing guidelines in containing threats of the virus spread. The DepEd Memorandum (DM) 015, series of 2020, which was released on Feb. 4, declares that the department, pursuant to the threats of Covid-19 as a matter of compelling and crucial concern, supports the overall efforts of the Philippine Government to prophylactically treat this public health concern. The memo contains the first set of policy directives of the DepEd against the novel coronavirus. The memo also reiterates the implementation of DM 011, series of 2020, which was issued last Feb. 1.

Conflict on its own backyard

Based on a report, a teachers’ federation in Quezon City accused the DepEd last Feb. 11 of violating its own memorandum, specifically Memo 15, after conducting and allowing its learners to attend an anti-drug culmination activity in its school. They said the Philippine National Police (PNP) held an anti-drug culmination activity for nearly a thousand Grade 9 students in a school in Quezon City on Feb. 10. DepEd immediately clarified the matter, noting that such activity is allowed since it was an activity within the campus.

Was there a violation?

Enclosure 2, Section 2 of DM 15, entitled “Conduct of national, regional, division and school activities,” states thus: “In the interest of public health, all public and private basic education schools and learning centers are duty-bound to exercise due diligence and take precautionary measures to minimize exposure to risks associated with the 2019-nCoV ARD (Covid-19).” Following that, the term “precautionary measures” mentioned in the statement were later defined in different letters. However, it was only in the letter (d) under definitions of the said term that “school activities within schools” was mentioned. However, it was not all about banning. It only stated that “All personnel and learners exhibiting respiratory infections must not attend activities that involve congregation of learners within the school.”

Expanding the first directives

Just this Feb. 12, DepEd released DM 21 as a second set of policy directives of the DepEd against Covid-19, which expands the first set, the DM 15. Enclosure 3 includes an advisory from the Department of Health (DOH), which urges to prevent holding concerts and other public events and gatherings that involve a huge number of attendees. Since the DepEd is tasked to cooperate with the DOH, this measure will now undoubtedly clear some misperception of some entities on following the order.

It’s a matter of time

The question is, can the case of the teachers’ petition be applied from the new set of directives? It’s a matter of time. It should be noted that the event happened on Feb. 10 or before the second set was released (Feb. 12). That means that the teachers’ basis of the petition is still based on DM 15, which did not include those gatherings or activities specially inside the campuses.

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