TACLOBAN CITY- The regional director of the Department of Education (DepEd) has urged the teachers to remain calm and never be part of panic buying amid the threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“Lockdown including the entrance of basic commodities will never happen. So, we do not need to rush. Stay calm because the government takes care of us,” said Ramir Uytico, the DepEd-8 director.

As teachers were advised to do their remaining works online, Uytico assured them of the immediate releases of their salaries and benefits.

Uytico also thanked Education Secretary Leonor Briones and other officials at the central office for “exploring the possibility of the early release of April salary, mid-year-bonus, 2018 performance-based bonus, and clothing allowance.”

According to Uytico, teachers will start to receive their salaries starting on April 1.

“As soon as cash is ready, we will immediately release all benefits. Of course, all these are subject to Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and DepEd guidelines. We just also need to be patient in these trying times,” he said.

Uytico, however, urged the teachers to “practice financial literacy.”

“We always understand their needs but not to the extent of allowing them to be fooled by those who take advantage of the situation. There are those, in the guise of helping, plunge them into the quagmire of nothingness. The help is indeed a camouflaged venom,” he said.

Meanwhile, Uytico reminded the school leaders to “always be available 24/7 to respond to any eventuality relative to school operation in the midst of this pandemic” despite their non-attendance in their work stations, saying that this “does not free them from seeing to it that schools are still safe.”

“I hope the current situation does not in any way lead to non-compliance with respective responsibilities as government officials and employees,” he said.

Also, he urged the teachers “to initiate engaging worthwhile and meaningful activities so learning does not stop” while maintaining social distancing at home with their families.

“Likewise, their being at home does not prevent them to indulge in online intellectual interaction with learners for their being dedicated teachers is not only confined in the four walls of the classrooms,” said Uytico.

With the current health situation in the country, DepEd has also cancelled the fourth grading final examination of elementary and high school students.

Following a DepEd memorandum, final scores in the remaining grading period will be computed based on students’ school performance.

“Private schools can adopt it but they can have their own as long as it will be for the benefit of the students,” Uytico said.

According to the official, there is also a big possibility for the cancellation of the moving up and graduation ceremonies this school year.(RONALD O.REYES)xxx