The Department of Education issued an order outlining additional provisions on employment and personnel relations, as well as responsible use of social media.
The Department of Education has warned that employees and personnel “shall not disparage DepEd and must always be mindful of the reputation and honor of the organization” as it issued an expanded policy that ostensibly seeks to promote professionalism within the agency.
The amended department order, signed by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Wednesday, Nov. 2, outlined additional provisions on employment and personnel relations, as well as responsible use of social media.
In @DepEd_PH order 49, education chief Sara Duterte tell employees t avoid making contact w/ students outside the school setting, including online, unless they are relatives. This as the agency investigates allegations of sexual harassment vs several teachers @cnnphilippines pic.twitter.com/y9deCdvvSK— AC Nicholls (@acnichollstan) November 4, 2022
DepEd personnel were also reminded to raise issues and concerns regarding basic education through formal and appropriate channels “without resorting to any political or third-party intervention or accommodation.”
Failure to comply, the agency said, shall mean outright denial of any request or appeal for consideration in the Office of the Secretary.
In response, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) chairperson Vladimer Quetua expressed concern over the expanded policy, saying that parts of the order “threaten the freedom of expression and right to redress of grievances of DepEd personnel.”
The earlier version of the policy only reminded DepEd employees to refrain from seeking endorsements or soliciting favorable actions from politicians, government personnel and similar entities outside the department.
The updated guidelines now contained more provisions on actions that personnel must observe, including on social media.
The amended order specifically reminded DepEd personnel to “avoid relationships, interaction and communication, including following social media with learners outside of the school setting, except if they are relatives.”
DepEd employees must also “desist from any act that may compromise one’s integrity as a government employee and that may compromise the honor of the DepEd,” the order said.
DepEd personnel, it said, should exercise caution when sharing posts and should not participate in the spreading of rumors and false information. They should also avoid posting online attacks against fellow employees and must instead utilize legal and human resource mediation procedures.
Public schools that intend to continue blended learning must clearly substantiate the “exceptional circumstances” preventing it from holding full in-person classes, according to DepEd.
Based on the guidelines, requesting schools must substantiate in writing the “exceptional circumstances” that prevent it from complying with Duterte’s earlier directive.
It must also submit a comprehensive situational analysis specifying that it exhausted all possible ways and means to hold full in-person classes and indicate mechanisms and timeline for the continued implementation of blended learning.
“The requesting school shall submit its request with all documentary requirements to the concerned SDS (schools division superintendent) for approval. After review and evaluation, the SDS shall have the authority to approve such request of public elementary and secondary schools for the implementation of blended learning modality due to exceptional circumstances,” it added.
The DepEd said the grant or denial of such request by the SDS shall be final unless reversed and overturned following a review of the regional director.
Meanwhile, the DepEd also formalized the lifting of the mandatory face mask policy inside classrooms. The Department of Health earlier said that it would leave it up to the DepEd if it will mandate the wearing of face masks inside classrooms.
For student use
Amid the directive for teachers to return the devices lent by the government at the height the pandemic, the DepEd on Thursday clarified that the desktop computers, laptops and tablets were originally meant for the use of students.
DepEd spokesman Michael Poa said the gadgets lent to teachers were meant for computer laboratories for the use of students.
“That’s what it’s meant for. It’s really for the use of the school, use of the learners, while they are in schools,” Poa said, adding that teachers who require laptops may request for such to di-vision or regional offices.
The central office may also provide laptops to teachers who really need them depending on availability, he added.
In April 2020, former education undersecretary Alain Del Pascua issued a memorandum allowing teachers to bring home the devices for use in the conduct of online training and classes. The memorandum specifically stated that teachers should return the gadgets upon resumption of regular classes.
Several DepEd division offices ordered the retrieval of the devices ahead of the full implementation of face-to-face classes this week.
ACT, however, said that the situation only exposes the grave backlog of the government in providing computers to the education sector.
NOTE: This article originally appeared on OneNews.