Following the deaths of five Department of Education (DepEd) personnel in Isabela and the continued spike of COVID-19 cases in the country, Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the government anew, including the education department, to uphold the welfare of teachers.
For the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, upholding the welfare of teachers entails the strict enforcement of the alternative work arrangement, the assurance of access to COVID-19 testing, treatment for those who would contract the virus, and the prioritization of teachers in the vaccination program.
Last year, DepEd assured that its personnel are covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) also offers the Employees’ Compensation (EC) Program, which provides income, medical, and other health benefits in the event of work-related sickness, injury, or death.
The School Division Office (SDO) in Isabela earlier announced that it has reached out to the grieving families to provide urgent assistance and facilitate the expeditious release of benefits. According to DepEd, the infections were acquired through community transmission and not work-related.
Teachers’ groups, however, have been clamoring on DepEd to extend financial assistance to personnel who get sick with COVID-19, claiming that teachers who got infected did not receive financial assistance from the government. They said that any financial assistance extended to them come from personal contributions or personal help from some government officials.
“Habang patuloy ang pagtaas ng mga kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa, lalong dapat paigtingin ng DepEd ang pag-aalaga sa ating mga gurong isinasakripisyo ang kanilang kaligtasan at kalusugan upang maipagpatuloy ng ating mga kabataan ang kanilang pag-aaral. Kailangang tiyakin sa ating mga guro na may agarang tulong na maipapaabot sa kanila kung sakaling sila ay magkasakit,” said Gatchalian.
The lawmaker concluded by reiterating his push to move teachers up in the COVID-19 vaccination priority list. Teachers are currently in the B1 category with other social workers. Teachers should instead be in the A4 priority list with the frontline personnel of other essential sectors, Gatchalian said.
The Senate’s Adopted Resolution No. 92, which Gatchalian sponsored, also called for the prioritization of teachers in the COVID-19 vaccination program.