Gwen: DepEd must not use RHUs to ill-treat unvaxxed teachers

·2 min read

CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has reminded all mayors in the province that coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination should not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment and other similar government transaction purposes.

Her memorandum, issued on Monday, June 13, 2022, also told the mayors that “Rural Health Units should not be used by Department of Education (DepEd) district superintendents, district supervisors, and school heads in order to discriminate against unvaccinated teachers, students, or parents.”

DepEd Central Visayas Director Salustiano Jimenez earlier told SunStar Cebu that about 1,000 public school teachers in the region have not been allowed to teach in front of their students amid the implementation of the limited face-to-face classes as they remain unvaccinated against Covid-19.

Jimenez, however, did not give any breakdown as to how many of the unvaccinated teachers were from Cebu Province. He said some were reportedly still hesitant due to their beliefs while others had been advised by their doctors to skip the vaccination due to their illnesses.

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 accomplish.

The regional director, however, has assured them that they will not be dismissed or terminated from work since their refusal to get vaccinated is not a ground for dismissal or termination.

He said it was President Rodrigo Duterte who approved the vaccination requirement at the time when Education Secretary Leonor Briones requested the opening of schools for the limited face-to-face classes in the country.

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 or RT-PCR test result every two weeks. The unvaccinated teachers will shoulder costs of their Covid-19 tests.

Jimenez further said it is up to the teachers 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.

However, Jimenez said, the government will shoulder the cost of Covid-19 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 the DepEd is just implementing the policy of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which has the authority to create measures on health.

Central Visayas has about 77,000 teaching personnel.

While it is required for teachers, Jimenez clarified that vaccination cards will not be required for learners before they can join the in-person classes.

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