CAN the teachers demand accountability from the Department of Education (DepEd) if one teacher has been confirmed Covid-19-positive? The teachers have the right to know because the local transmission of the deadly virus is already apparent and it is a real threat.
Teachers are reporting physically to schools to accomplish the Individual Performance Commitment and Review Form (IPCRF) and to work on other materials related to blended education in preparation for the opening of the school year 2020-2021 on August 24.
DepEd has made our teachers exposed frontliners because they will be distributing modules to the parents that will bring them home to their children to be answered and later to be brought back to teachers for checking. There were instances that teachers gathered in big groups in a room to discuss related work and a few occasions some of them forgot to wear face masks.
I would like to mention the case of one teacher, Ildefonso Enguerra III, of Manuel Roxas High School in Paco, Manila (Manila Bulletin, July 29, 2020). He was diagnosed with Covid-19. He got fever, cough, sore throat, loss of smell and appetite. His school was locked down for disinfection.
What is more threatening is what happened to other teachers having previous interaction with Sir Enguerra. Many believed that they have been contaminated and they are convinced that they have the symptoms also of Covid-19. That could be psychosomatic but the fear, the doubt, the suspicion and the apprehension are there already.
Before Sir Enguerra was diagnosed positive, he also met with other teachers outside of his group including his principal and other department heads. These teachers also met with other teachers, went to the market and grocery stores. As usual, they were bonding with their family members, some pregnant, some senior citizens, and some with existing illnesses.
Considering the Enguerra case, what assistance was given by DepEd? We have to know the answer yet. If confused teachers want to be tested, is DepEd spending? DepEd should not just lock down and disinfect the school only. The suspected teachers should be subjected to testing, contact tracing, isolation and treatment as needed. With the Enguerra case, we want to see the move of DepEd.
If this happened to Sir Enguerra, sooner or later, this will happen also to any of the teachers in your division. DepEd Order No. 11, series of 2020 stated that physical reporting should only be rendered after consultation with concerned personnel and only upon the authorization of the regional director.
How many schools in the Philippines are following this? We believe in the wisdom of regional directors, superintendents, supervisors, principals and department heads. The provisions of this order should be interpreted and needed timely implementation for the good of our teachers.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition is wholeheartedly and emphatically requesting DepEd to prohibit physical reporting to schools for tasks that are not essential and can be done remotely and postpone the ongoing accomplishment of the IPCRF, releasing of report cards, retrieval of books and other activities that require group gathering.
We need teachers who are healthy and alive for the continuation of education after the reign of Covid-19. If Secretary Leonor Briones is a real mother, she should consider the groaning and the lamentation of her teachers. One thing is sure, there is still life after Covid-19.