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College teachers, staff members seek 'continuity of learning' with safety protocols in place

A group of teachers and staff members of various colleges and universities has asked the government to "consider the continuity of learning of the students, and the operations of private school enterprises."

"We understand the concern of the President, and his unequivocal statement
of putting premium on the health of our students, above all else. It is common sense: Going to school to study without any vaccine at hand exposes the children and the young people to the risk of acquiring the virus and spreading it further and wider, to families and communities," said the Council of Teachers and Staff of the Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (CoTeSCUP) in a statement.

The private schools and institutions, however, would feel the brunt of the effect of the decision issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday.

"We also note, however, that while the budget of the public school sector is
assured annually, the private schools including religious schools are hard pressed in
finding ways to survive and to maintain their operations, and as much as possible,
protect the employment of their workers," the group added.

The group also proposes several conditions that schools should be able to implement before the start of operations.

  1. All private educational institutions shall establish and ensure the strict enforcement of health and safety protocols mandated by government within the spaces of their campuses;
  2. They shall prepare vigorously and adopt the online learning modality of students who are willing and able to study online the different subjects offered at each level;
  3. They shall make available the learning resources and modules for the benefit of the students;
  4. They shall review and identify the essential requirements and competencies for the subjects, essential being the standards set without the accommodations or justifications, regardless of the student's context;
  5. They shall be transparent with their financial statements and recovery plan, before making an appeal for government to give them financial assistance during this time of the pandemic, on the ground that they are on the verge of losses, and financial condition would indicate a probable state of insolvency when obligations fall due, or there is a need to retrench or declare as redundant their employees, reduce or distort their wages;
  6. They shall ensure the participation and involvement of the faculty and staff as stakeholders of their institutions, and respect teachers’ unions or associations by consulting them, before making any decision on any policy related to COVID-19 that will affect their lives and working conditions;
  7. Should the government decide to grant or loan any stimulus package, subsidy, or financial assistance to schools by way of scholarships or other modes, such financial assistance should be tied to a formal commitment and capacity of the schools to keep their employees;
  8. Schools seeking permission to continue with their operations amid this pandemic should be subject to regulatory standards concerning new modes of teaching and learning.

The CoTeSCUP is a coalition of labor unions, faculty associations and individuals who are working in private educational institutions in the Philippines.

The group is composed of the Faculty Association of MAPUA Institute of Technology, Silliman University Faculty Association, Lyceum Faculty Association, Far Eastern University Faculty Association, Inc., Centro Escolar University Faculty and Allied Workers Union, St. Paul University Manila Faculty Union, Union of Faculty and Employees of Saint Louis University, College Faculty Independent Union, University of San Carlos, Faculty Association of DLSUD, Inc., and the Mapua Institute of Technology Labor Union. -- BAP, GMA News