A leading Catholic educator in Manila called on teachers to take care of themselves and not to wait for the government to conduct COVID-19 mass testing on everyone.
Father Nolan Que of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), however, clarified that he supports the call for mass testing, saying “it is the only way” to know the level of contamination.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) has earlier issued an “urgent call” to conduct mass testing among education workers in time for the start of work on June 1.
“This should be completed with test results before we return to work, and without charge,” said Raymond Basilio, secretary general of the teachers’ organization.
Basilio said the two-month lockdown against the coronavirus pandemic would be “moot and endangering the health of at least two million education workers and their families” if mass testing is not conducted.
As per the guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine in the country, full work force may operate in public offices in areas under the “modified general community quarantine” and “general community quarantine.”
Father Que, however, said the teachers “cannot really count on the government to provide mass testing.”
“What I am supporting is every education institution to see to it that when they ask their teachers to report, then their teachers should have been tested,” said the priest.
He said the coronavirus test should be shouldered by private schools, adding that he will bring the issue before CEAP, an organization of Catholic educators and schools.
“If the government will not be able to pay for the rapid test of their teachers, maybe if I am a public school teacher, I’ll do it for the sake of my students, my family,” the priest suggested.
He stressed the importance of “self-care,” adding that if one takes good care of oneself, “you take good care of your family, you also take good care of your school.”
On May 18, the Education department announced that it has not come up yet with a decision whether to test all its employees.
Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malauan said that although there will be testing protocols to be followed, the department still have to define “mass testing.”
“It might be misinterpreted as testing all, which may be neither affordable nor needed,” he said.