Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Risa Hontiveros. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTOS
MANILA, Philippines —Two senators are supporting a group’s call for a two-week health break for teachers amid the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The health break was earlier proposed by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, citing a survey supposedly showing that more than 50 percent of teachers in Metro Manila have flu-like symptoms.
“Since the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire in the country, I support the imposition of a health break for our teachers and students especially for those who are in areas that have been placed under Alert Level 3,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education, said in a statement on Thursday.
“Since the pandemic started, our education frontliners have already been under a lot of strain. By giving them a health break, we hope to give them ample time to address their healthcare concerns, including the needs of their families,” he added.
In backing the call, Hontiveros stressed: “Teachers are humans, too.”
“They are also exposed to the same health risks and are experiencing the same difficulties just like everybody else. Maaaring hindi lang sila ang may sakit kundi ang kanilang pamilya,” she said in another statement on Wednesday.
“ A two-week break is the amount of time for full quarantine and to let them rest, recover or attend to their family’s needs,” she further said.
Hontiveros then urged the Commission on Higher Education to reconsider the implementation of limited face-to-face classes slated on January 31.
“The health and safety of both students and teachers should be the priority,” she said.
“We also cannot allow sick teachers teaching our children who are also vulnerable to COVID. Ang kalusugan ng ating mga guro ay kalusugan din ng ating mga anak.”
Aside from giving them a health break, Gatchalian said teachers and even those non-teaching staff must also undergo regular COVID-19 testing.
“When they test positive, they should be able to count on the government for support when it comes to their treatment,” he said.
He also called on the government to intensify efforts to vaccinate teachers and eligible learners to protect them from the risks of COVID-19 infection, severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
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