The following is the statement of the Department of Education-Negros Occidental on the 13 unvaccinated teachers who were not allowed inside the Negros Occidental High School yesterday. We print it in full:
The Department of Education – Negros Occidental (DepEd Neg Occ) recognizes the effort of Ms. Josette Terora, Principal IV of Negros Occidental High School (NOHS), to strictly implement DepEd Task Force COVID-19 Memorandum No. 575 dated December 7, 2021 titled IATF Vaccination Requirement for Personnel Reporting On-site Beginning 01 December 2021 which is based on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Resolution No. 148-B which provides that
“In areas where there are sufficient supplies of COVID-19 vaccines as determined by the National Vaccines Operation Center (NVOC), all establishments and employers in the public and private sector shall require their eligible employees who are tasked to do on-site work to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Eligible employees who remain to be unvaccinated may not be terminated solely by reason thereof. However, they shall be required to undergo RT-PCR tests regularly at their own expense for purposes of on-site work. Provided that, antigen tests may be resorted to when RT-PCR capacity is insufficient or not immediately available.”
DepEd Neg Occ firmly believes that Ms. Terora’s decision to deny admittance to the 13 unvaccinated personnel was solely based on the DepEd policy, and not on any willful desire to discriminate them given that vaccination is not mandatory.
As the school administrator, she is duty-bound to comply all issuances of the Department to ensure the health and safety of all personnel and that of the learners when face-to-face classes resume.
However, considering that there are still no guidelines on “how to handle the attendance records of personnel who cannot be accommodated in the school premises, despite being required to report onsite, due to failure to present proof of vaccination or valid negative RT-PCR/antigen test result” and that the Civil Service policy on Alternative Work Arrangement (AWA) is still in place, all schools in the Division will still adhere to AWA regardless of the alert level status until such time that DepEd, CSC or IATF guidelines specific to attendance will be implemented.
Rather, the IATF Guidelines on the Nationwide Implementation of Alert Level System for COVID-19 Response issued on February 27, 2022 which provides that “Agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall adhere to 100% on-site workforce. Off-site work shall be under such work arrangements subject to relevant rules and regulations issued by the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the President” (Section 6 – Guidelines for Areas Under Alert Level 1) shall be followed.
Nevertheless, DepEd Neg Occ continues to appeal to its personnel to submit themselves to vaccination for their own protection from being infected with the virus, and as part of the preparation for the eventual return to face-to-face classes.
(Ian Arnold M. Arnaez – PDO II/03022022)