MANILA, Philippines – The City of Manila has suspended classes from January 14 to 21 as several groups called for “health break” amid rising COVID-19 cases.
“The City of Manila is declaring a health break starting January 14 to January 21, 2022. Walang pasok, online or physical classes in all levels para magka-health break naman. Mabawasan ang anxiety ng mga guro, magulang at estudyante (There will be no classes online and physical classes in all levels to have a health break. The anxiety level of teachers, parents, and students will be lessened),” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said in a press briefing on Thursday, January 13.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Tuesday, January 11, called for the Department of Education (DepEd) to hold a two-week health break in Alert Level 3 areas as more teachers are getting sick.
“Many of our teachers have been sick since the new year started; like the rest of the country, it seems. Nearly every household we know has a sick member in it. Teachers and students alike are struggling to keep holding classes amid this Omicron-driven surge. Either we’re sick or we’re taking care of family members who are. It’s only humane to give all of us a break amid this outbreak, if only to allow us to recover,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition also made a similar call on Tuesday.
“In this time of danger, the people expect government agencies such as the DepEd to understand their priorities well and lead in protecting our citizens, teachers, students, and their families. But unfortunately, what we see are DepEd offices whose only concern is sending their people back to work, and risking their lives in doing so,” TDC chairperson Benjo Basas said.
In response, the DepEd on Thursday morning released an order stating that its regional offices and schools division offices can decide on suspension of classes amid rising COVID-19 cases.
“As the country experiences an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases and in consideration of teachers’ and learners’ health and well-being, the Department of Education urges the Regional Offices (RO) and/or Schools Division Offices (SDO) to exercise discretion in suspending classes and other teaching-related activities,” the DepEd order read.
The DepEd said that its local officials can decide on class suspensions for the month of January based on “varying health situations,” “reliable assessment of the health status of their teachers and learners,” and area risk classification.
“The ROs/SDOs shall decide on the specific dates and number of days for the suspension of classes as long as the period of class suspension does not exceed two weeks in order to avoid a prolonged disruption in the current school calendar,” the DepEd order said.
During the suspension of classes, synchronous and asynchronous classes are on hold while submission of academic requirements and conduct of other teaching-related activities must be moved to a later date.
As for private schools, they may “exercise their own discretion” in consultation with parents and associations.
Last week, several schools have already declared a “health break” beginning January 10, postponing classes and submission of requirements.
On January 2, the DepEd announced that it was halting the expansion phase of the limited face-to-face classes in the country which was supposed to start on the first week of 2022. The agency also announced the suspension of in-person classes in areas under Alert Level 3, including Metro Manila.
The DepEd announcement comes as the country is dealing with a fresh surge in infections driven by the Omicron COVID-19 variant. On Thursday, the Philippines logged its highest single-day tally of COVID-19 cases at 34,021. The country now has over 3 million confirmed infections of the deadly virus. – Rappler.com