MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to come up with guidelines on workers’ safety protocol for school personnel for the holding of limited face-to-face classes in areas determined to have low risk in the transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources, said DOLE should convene with the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to craft specific occupational standards to ensure the safety and health of teachers and school personnel.
He said these guidelines will help minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools and training facilities that would be allowed to open for students.
“Bago po tuluyang payagan ang mga paaralan at training institutes na magpapasok ng mga estudyante, dapat pong magbalangkas ng mga panuntunan para sa kaligtasan ng mga guro at iba pang empleyado ng mga paaralan at training institutes,” Villanueva said in a statement.
“Sa pagpapatupad ng mga safety protocol sa mga paaralan, gusto po natin bigyan ng kasiguruhan ang mga magulang na ligtas para sa kanilang mga anak ang pumasok sa mga eskwelahan,” he added.
Villanueva made the suggestion after President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night greenlighted DepEd’s proposal to allow limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas. The physical classes will begin in January 2021.
The senator said the prevailing regulation on COVID-19 prevention jointly issued by the labor and trade departments in May might not be enough to cover the nuances of school operations, hence, his suggestion for workers’ safety protocols.
He also cited the law on workers’ safety, formally known as Republic Act No. 11058 or the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSH) Act, which mandates the institution of measures in workplaces to promote the well-being of workers.
The strict observance of OSH standards has drawn more significance in the prevailing pandemic while a vaccine remains to be discovered, Villanueva said.
He also reiterated his appeal to DOLE to resume its labor inspections at workplaces to ensure the strict observance of OSH standards in preventing the spread of the disease.
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