ABOUT 1,000 public school teachers in Central Visayas are still not allowed to teach in front of their students amid the implementation of the limited face-to-face classes as they remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Salustiano Jimenez, director of the Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd 7), told SunStar Cebu Thursday, June 2, 2022, that about three percent or more than 3,000 teaching and non-teaching personnel in public schools in the region still refused to get vaccinated against the virus.
Jimenez said about 1,000 of them are public school teachers while the rest are non-teaching personnel.
He said some were reportedly still hesitant due to their respective beliefs while others had been advised by their doctors to skip the vaccination due to their illnesses.
Central Visayas has about 77,000 teaching personnel while there are about 4,000 non-teaching personnel in public schools, he said.
“We have not allowed to teach in class those who are unvaccinated. But we will also not dismiss or terminate them. They will be given other tasks outside of teaching,” he said in Cebuano.
Jimenez said the alternative tasks given to them depend on their principals, adding that they may be the ones who will print or prepare the activity sheets or materials for the blended learning or perform other tasks so long as they have work to do or accomplishments.
The regional director, however, assured them that they will not be dismissed or terminated from work as it is not a ground for dismissal or termination as clearly stated in the provisions of the law.
According to Section 12 of Republic Act 11525 or the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, the Covid-19 vaccine card shall not be considered an additional mandatory requirement for employment purposes.
He said they always respect the law, which is why they strictly implemented the guidelines set forth by the Inter-Agency task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Jimenez reiterated that unvaccinated teachers can still report to school as long as they can submit either a negative rapid antigen or negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result every two weeks.
He further said it is up to them to decide whether they will continue to abide by the protocol or decide to resign if they cannot deal with the fact that they are no longer allowed to handle classes.
The unvaccinated teachers bear the costs of their Covid tests.
However, Jimenez said, it is the government that will shoulder the cost of Covid tests for those who were advised by their doctors not to get inoculated due to their illnesses.
“For me, it’s not [discriminatory] because that’s still a choice. They should not feel [that it’s] discriminatory because that’s the policy,” he said, adding that DepEd is just implementing the policy of the IATF, which has the authority to create measures on health.
Jimenez said they had already given all the chances and even conducted one-on-one conversations with the unvaccinated teachers to explain everything, stressing that they cannot just violate the policy.
Jimenez still hopes all the public school teachers will get vaccinated before the opening of school year 2022-2023, expected to be in August, as they aim for all the schools in the region to implement the limited face-to-face classes by then.
He said the department is still awaiting reports on the number of unvaccinated teachers in private schools in the region.
As of May 27, more than 75 percent or 3,653 schools in Central Visayas had received safety seals or the go signal to start holding limited face-to-face classes. Less than 200 of these were private schools.