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Legislator seeks transparency in COVID-19 reporting

A party-list lawmaker on Thursday urged the Department of Education (DepED) to exercise transparency in reporting of COVID-19 cases within the ranks of teaching personnel.

Assistant Majority Leader and Rep. Alfred delos Santos of Probinsyano party-list group made the statement in response to studies and surveys which showed that “at least 50 percent of the teacher-respondents reported being ‘compelled to physically report for duty despite surging cases of COVID-19 and the lack of safety and viability measures.’”

"I urge the Department of Education to step up protection for public teachers against COVID-19 infection with the opening of blended learning this month by practicing transparency in the reporting of cases within the ranks of teaching personnel," delos Santos said. 

De los Santos also cited a report by ACT Teachers Partylist, which has so far received information indicating that over 20 teachers had been infected with the novel coronavirus. Based on that report, infections occurred in Manila, 10; Quezon City, 6; Malabon, 5; Navotas, 3; Bicol region, 2; and Region 7, 19 cases.

According to de los Santos, the predicament of the teachers should not be glossed over since their roles and responsibilities were very much like other frontliners. 

“They should not be treated as martyrs but as professionals who should be honored and compensated,” de los Santos said.

This developed as Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas urged the Education department to pilot test the different modes of blended learning instead of pushing through with the opening of classes on August 24.

Vargas, member of the House basic education and culture committee, said the DepEd should consider moving the start of classes as concerns mount that several schools nationwide are still unprepared for distance learning.

“DepEd should consider pilot testing various forms of blended learning in select schools nationwide starting August 24 while sourcing additional funds for its implementation. This way, the agency will know the technical challenges that could affect teachers and students,” Vargas said. 

“Using the experiences and feedback of stakeholders in the pilot tests, DepEd can implement blended learning more effectively later this year or even in January 2021,” he added.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has rejected calls to move the opening of classes on August 24, saying further delays in the start of the school year could affect students’ interest in learning. 

DepEd will be using a mix of internet-based sessions, radio and television programs and printed modules for school year 2020-2021.

Echoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand, Briones said there will be no face to face classes until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed.  Around 22.9 million students enrolled for the new school year.

Figures from the DepEd revealed that total number of enrollees for both private and public schools from kindergarten to senior high school declined by almost 25 percent from 20.22 million recorded in 2019-2020 school year, as of July 15.

Government records show that there are some 700,000 school teachers responsible for educating some 21 million students across the country.

Topics: Department of Education , Alfred delos Santos , Leonor Briones , COVID-19 , Rodrigo Duterte , ACT Teachers Partylist
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