Schools urged to strictly enforce health protocols, alternative work set up for teachers

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020   •   130

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called on public school officials to strictly enforce health protocols and alternative work arrangements laid out by the Department of Education (DepEd) to protect teachers and non-teaching staff from possible coronavirus disease infection.

In a statement, Gatchalian said this is to prevent the uptick of COVID-19 cases now that teachers and other school personnel are expected to be out in the field to carry out their tasks and distribute modules to students.

The senator made the call after 10 high school teachers in Ilagan City, Isabela reportedly tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after attending a meeting.

Two students were also reported to have contracted the virus.

Ilagan City is under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until Oct. 16.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education said the incident in Ilagan City should remind public school authorities to ensure the safety of their personnel.

They should equip their personnel with back-to-school essentials such as masks, face shields, and personal protective equipment (PPE). The health care needs of teachers and staff infected with COVID-19 should also be given immediate attention.

“Ngayong nagsimula na ang klase, lalo nating dapat tutukan ang kalusugan ng bawat guro at non-teaching staff lalo na’t sila ang nagsisilbing mga frontliners sa pagpapatupad ng distance learning sa gitna ng pandemya,” Gatchalian said.

He also said that since classes are in full swing, an arrangement between DepEd and PhilHealth should already be operational to inspire and sustain the confidence in the roll-out of distance learning program.

“Kailangang siguruhin natin ang kanilang kaligtasan sa kanilang pagtatrabaho at kung sakali namang tamaan sila ng sakit, dapat matiyak natin na makatatanggap sila ng agarang tulong medikal,” he said.

DepEd Order No. 011 s. 2020 identifies alternative work arrangements such as work-from-home, skeleton workforce, four-day workweek, and staggered working hours.

In areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), schools and DepEd offices may operate at full operational capacity as may be allowed by required health standards, including physical distancing protocols.

In areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) like Metro Manila, however, personnel reporting physically for work should not exceed 50 percent.

To help with early detection of possible COVID-19 cases, DepEd’s required health standards, which are outlined in DepEd Order No. 014 s. 2020, mandate schools and offices to have a provision of referral services that will link learners, teachers, and personnel to the appropriate health facilities.

Under its required health standards, DepEd is also tasked to coordinate with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and work out a possible institutional arrangement.

Class suspension still falls under LGUs discretion—DepEd

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2020

The local government units (LGU) remain as the authority for announcing suspension of classes during calamities, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).

DepEd Undersecretary Jess Mateo said the department did not release any guidelines in class suspension amid the distance learning under the new normal setting.

“Ang magdedeklara ng walang pasok ay ang mga local government units, (The local government units will declare class suspension),” he said.

DepEd also said classes will not be heavily affected since most classes are using modules and not online. Teachers can also extend deadlines for assignments and other school projects.

“Ang mga guro natin nagbibigay naman ng konsiderasyon kasi alam nila ang estado ng kanilang mga mag-aaral, (Teachers will provide consideration because they know they situation of the students),” Mateo said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Gatchalian urges gov’t to improve quality of teacher education, training

Robie de Guzman   •   October 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday reiterated his call for mechanisms that would help improve the quality of education and training of teachers in the country.

In a statement, Gatchalian said that he finds the low passing rates of the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) alarming and in need of improvement.

During a Senate hearing, the Professional Regulation Commission Board for Professional Teachers said that from 2014-2017, the passing rate was 48.86 percent for first-time LET takers for the secondary level.

At the elementary level, the passing rate among first-time LET takers for the same period was 30.65 percent while 43.44 percent for both elementary and secondary levels.

Gatchalian said that last year’s passing rates were equally dismal with 27.29 percent passing rate for elementary level LET takers in March 2019 and 31.34 percent for those who took the licensure exams in September 2019.

For the secondary level, the passing rate for LET takers in March 2019 was 25.95 percent and 39.69 percent for those who took the September 2019 licensure exams.

“At the end of the day, what we want is better outcomes for our learners. Better outcomes come from better inputs, and teacher quality and teacher education are part of those better inputs,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, also pointed out that the Philippines ranked lowest in Reading Comprehension and second lowest in Science and Mathematics in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) among 79 countries.

He also cited a study by the World Bank Group and Australian Aid which showed that except for English elementary teachers, the average elementary or high school teacher in the Philippines could correctly answer fewer than half of questions on subject content tests.

Gatchalian Senator Sherwin Gatchalian noting that it is the primary end-user of graduates of Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).

Pre-service education refers to teachers’ training before they become classroom teachers.

The senator said his Senate Resolution No. 526 seeks to ascertain the challenges and limitations affecting the quality of teacher education and training and the performance of TEIs so that efforts can be directed towards strengthening the pre-service and in-service programs that are responsive to the demands of the 21st century.

“DepEd has almost 85 percent of our students and close to 75 percent of our teachers. So my analysis is that if we fix and strengthen our public school system, we strengthen the entire country,” Gatchalian said.

DepEd eyes recalibration of students’ homework load

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 8, 2020

The Department of Education (DepEd) will begin a recalibration or adjustment of homework for students amid complaints from parents.

DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio said the department will release guidelines for schools in giving out homework during the implementation of the distance learning system.

Parang overwhelming yata ang mga naibigay na gagawin ng bata. Kailangan din na mag-recalibrate kami, mad-adjust siguruhin ang mga pinapagawa namin sa mga nag-aaral habang nasa bahay ay makatuwiran at hindi naman subra-sobra (The schoolwork seemed overwhelming for students. We also need to recalibrate and adjust to make sure the homework given to students will be fair and not too much),” he said.

Meanwhile, the Education Department already removed periodical examinations to lessen the workload of students and teachers. Instead, grading will be based on the student’s written works and performance tasks. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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