The work from home scheme, we all wanted has been approved by the Department of Education (DepEd) amidst the current health crisis the country is facing.
The department does not advice for both the teaching and non-teaching personnel to physically report to schools even those in the low risk areas. This clarification has been issued by the department in a memorandum signed by Undersecretary Jesus Mateo and Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo dated June 22, 2020.
Health Priority in the Academic Sector
The memorandum reinstated that even if the agency seeks ot pursue for the continuity of basic education services; “we remain committed in protecting the health and safety of our personnel.” Thus the ramification for the work from home scheme.
The DepEd put emphasis on precautionary measures to be observed at all times; this is to contain the infection and avoid transmission among personnel and the community. These can further hinder service delivery in the offices and schools or community learning centers (CLS).
Under the memorandum, the DepEd has clarified that a Work from Home (WFH) scheme is “still highly recommended for both teaching and non-teaching personnel;” especially for affairs that may be operated through alternative strategies and remote modalities.
Alternative Working Arrangements
The department has likewise dished out a menu of alternative work arrangements (AWA) options and guidance to schools/offices/CLCs and personnel “on the work arrangement that is most applicable to them.”
The agency stressed that full operational capacity does not have to pertain for the whole workforce to physically attend to the working sites. “Optimal or full operational capacity does not necessarily correspond to the full workforce physically reporting to the workplace/onsite.”
They continued however that in unavoidable instances for physical attendance; the workplace must have been ensured of its compliance to the Safe Return to Work protocols.
In exceptional cases, the offices/schools/CLCs requiring physical reporting must ensure that the workplace is compliant with the Safe Return to Work protocols.”
Meanwhile, for schools that have been used as quarantine or isolation facilities; the DepEd said that physical reporting shall be prohibited until such time that a certification from the proper health authorities is issued declaring the school as safe and fit for education purposes.
Applicable AWA per Individual
To determine whether the AWA is applicable to a certain individual:
- People who are 21 years old and below;
- 60 years old and above;
- Pregnant women; and
- Those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities or other health risks; illnesses and/or pre-existing medical conditions including those who reside with Suspect or Probable Case should be reconsidered by local DepEd or school officials.
The agency also considered the personnel who might face difficulties reporting caused by the reinforcement of strict community quarantine, curfew, limited or no access to transportation options, and/or other regulatory limitations on travel; should also be given utmost consideration.
Physical Attendance Despite the Directive
However, in spite of this directive; the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) made the claim that some school officials still require teachers to physically report to schools.
The TDC; a 30,000-strong group, made a note that submission of an initial list of Schools Division offices (SDOs) with reported cases of schools that warrant physical reporting has been provided to the Office of Education Secretary Leonor Briones for validation.
They likewise made their appeal to DepEd; the appeal was for the implementation “strict observance” of health protocols and work arrangements in schools and offices.
The group has voiced their concern for the department to take the pandemic seriously.
This pandemic is a serious threat to life and safety of our teachers, thus, the DepEd should take this seriously as well.”
Virtual Classes and Self-learning Modules
A Learning Management System (LMS) has also been made accessible by the Department of Education. Parents and teachers alike. who would wish to adapt to the new school environment under the pandemic; can use it for their benefit.
The DepEd Learning Management System grants teachers the access to create a “virtual class.”
In which they can assign different activities and lessons to each learner despite the work from home scheme.
However, that option might not be the best one out in the market. Since it’s free, millions of students and teachers will use it. Another good alternative is the platform of New Learning PH. It’s complete with everything you need from gamification, progress track reporting, etc.
The LMS will work side by side with the DepEd Commons which happens to hold:
- Open Educational Resources (OERs);
- Electronic Self-Learning Modules (e-SLMs); and
- Other multimedia lectures episodes that teachers can use to assign and schedule each activity that a learner must go through in the LMS.
Both the DepEd Commons and DepEd LMS are available for access throughout numerous devices; including smartphones, desktop computers, laptops, and tablets.
What do you think of the work from home scheme? Do you agree with the issuance of this directive? Why or why not?