‘Recipe for disaster’: Teachers blasts DepEd for inadequate physical classes measures

Rep. France Castro of ACT-Teachers Party-list at the House of the Peoples' Representatives of Ethiopia on June 22, 2022. Castro is pushing for the inclusion of Philippine history in the curriculum of higher K-12 grades. (Photo: France Castro/Facebook)
Rep. France Castro of ACT-Teachers Party-list at the House of the Peoples' Representatives of Ethiopia on June 22, 2022. Castro is pushing for the inclusion of Philippine history in the curriculum of higher K-12 grades. (Photo: France Castro/Facebook)

The Department of Education’s (DepEd) Memorandum Order No. 34 is a “recipe for disaster,” said the teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).

In two separate statements, the group blasts the education department’s indifference to the teachers’ and students’ welfare for scheduling the incoming School Year (SY) 2022-2023 too close to the end of school year (EOSY) 2021-2022 with teachers still reporting to work even if it’s already their vacation, and for not putting adequate and substantive health measure for students physically returning to their classes.

‘Proportional Vacation Pay’

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro said that she is concerned over the tight period between the official EOSY 2021-2022 and preparations for the incoming SY 2022-2023, with teachers still reporting to school beyond the EOSY due to unfinished businesses and additional work given to them.

Wala sa nasabing Department Order ang pagbanggit sa sapat na kumpensasyon para sa pagpapapasok sa mga guro sa kabila ng sa mga panahong iyan ay dapat nakabakasyon ang mga teachers natin,” Castro said.

(Nowhere in the said department order was there any mention about compensating teachers for requiring them to report to work despite it being their vacation already.)

The progressive lawmaker said that SY 2021-2022 had already ended on June 24, and that teachers who work beyond this date should be properly compensated through Proportional Vacation Pay (PVP). And in a week, teachers will already be required to report to work again in preparation for the next school year, giving them no adequate time to rest and enjoy their well-deserved vacation.

Sa panahon ng June 25 - August 22, 2022, tinatamasa dapat ng mga guro natin sa public school ang Proportional Vacation Pay (PVP). Wala na ngang sick leave ang teachers natin, hindi pa lubos na nakakapagpahinga ang mga teachers dahil sa dami ng paperworks at dagdag na trabaho na pinapataw sa kanila,” Castro added.

(Between June 25 to August 22, 2022, public school teachers should enjoy Proportional Vacation Pay. Teachers don’t even have sick leaves, they still don’t enjoy their vacation due to mounting paperworks and additional work given to them.)

With this, Castro is calling for the education department and DepEd Secretary Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio to put an end to the endless paperwork that teachers are given beyond the 220 school days as mandated by the law, and ensure that whatever work they’re given would be within the official school calendar.

100% return to F2F ‘recipe for disaster’

Vladimir Quetua, ACT Philippines’ Chairperson, said that returning to the pre-pandemic class size without any health protection mechanism but wearing a face mask is a “recipe for disaster.”

“They removed any requisite for inspection or even a mere checklist of requirements for safe school reopening. There is no standard for classroom ventilation aside from opening the doors and windows. There is no requisite for hand washing facilities or steady water supply. The need for a clinic or a nurse is not even mentioned,” said Quetua.

What is more preposterous, for Quetua, is that the school, or even the education department, will not be liable if any of the students, faculty or staff contracts Covid-19.

Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang ganitong kabulagsakan ng estado sa kalusugan at kaligtasan laluna ng ating mga estudyante at guro,” Quetua said.

(This blatant disregard for the students’ and teachers’ health and welfare is unacceptable.)

“The country cannot wait any longer for face-to-face classes to resume. Pero magiging matagumpay lamang ito kung ligtas ang pagbabalik-paaralan.(This will only be successful if physically returning to school is safe.) We demand a timely safe school reopening. Huwag trabahong-tamad ang gobyerno na ‘pwede na yan’ attitude (The government mustn't have a lazy attitude when it comes to this),” Quetua further pointed out.

Quetua reiterated ACT’s call for a safe return to schools in November, following several requisites like adequate ventilation in classrooms, employing additional teachers to reduce class size, every school must have more nurses and utility personnel, among many others.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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