At least two senators are supporting calls for a two-week health break for teachers who are now reeling under a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases since the start of January 2022.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said that since the Omicron variant is “spreading like wildfire in the country,” authorities should heed the call put forth by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) which found out in a survey that more than 50 percent of teachers in Metro Manila have been hit by flu-like symptoms.

“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,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“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,” said the senator, who is seeking re-election in the upcoming May 2022 elections.

But Gatchalian said that more than implementing a health break, it is equally important that the government aggressively pursue measures that seek to promote the safety and welfare of both the teachers and students, including regular COVID-19 testing for teachers and non-teaching staff.

“When they test positive, they should be able to count on the government for support when it comes to their treatment,” he stressed.

“Lastly, we should intensify our efforts to vaccinate teachers and eligible learners to protect them from the risks of infection, severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” added the lawmaker.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros echoed the call saying teachers deserve a two-week health break as they are also facing serious health risks “like everybody else.”

“Teachers are humans, too. They are also exposed to the same health risks and are experiencing the same difficulties like everybody else,” said Hontiveros, who is also seeking a fresh term in the Senate in next year’s polls.

“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 stressed.

Hontiveros also said the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) should also reconsider its announcement regarding the implementation of limited face-to-face classes.

“The health and safety of both students and teachers should be the priority. We also cannot allow sick teachers teaching our children who are also vulnerable to COVID,” she pointed out.

Source: Manila Bulletin (