School teachers don’t have to be friends on social media with their students unless the tutor and pupil are already relatives, the Department of Education ordered recently.
Through Department Order No. 49 series of 2022 released on Wednesday, DepEd told its officials and employees to exercise caution in using Facebook and other online platforms and refrain from “following social media with learners” unless they are family members or are related.
The order was issued to promote professionalism in the delivery of basic education programs and services. It stressed the provisions of the current Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officialsand Employees and reminded department workers to always adhere to “acceptable norms of conduct and relations in DepEd.”
This includes avoiding “relationships, interaction, and communication, including following social media with learners
outside of school setting,” the order dated Nov. 2 emphasized.
In explaining the order, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio said the friendship between teachers and students should stay within a school setting and not extend outside the campus.
“As a teacher, there should be a line between him or her and the learner. They should not have friendly relations with their learners outside of the learning institution setting because a bias will be created for a person who is friends with someone. Of course, relationships have their own problems,” Duterte-Carpio said.
The new order amends DepEd Order No. 47, or the Promotion of Professionalism in the Implementation and Delivery of Basic Education Programs and Services.
Meanwhile, amid its five-day in-person classes mandate for all public schools nationwide, the DepEd has allowed public schools with “exceptional circumstances” to proceed with blended learning.
Under DepEd Order No. 50 series of 2022, dated Nov. 3 and signed by Duterte-Carpio, public schools that are unable to comply with the mandated five-day in-person classes “due to exceptional circumstances” must submit their request for continuation of blended learning beyond Nov. 2.
DepEd earlier said at least 261 schools sustained damage from Tropical Storm Paeng.
“Nonetheless, schools can continue to implement the blended learning modality during the pendency of the request,” the order read.
“The approving authority for the implementation of blended learning modality in select public elementary and secondary schools beyond Nov. 2, 2O22 shall be the schools division superintendent (SDS), whose decision shall be subject to review by the regional director (RD),” it added.
Circumstances to allow blended learning to continue include the delay in the construction of school facilities, immediate need for relocation of the school, shortage of basic education resources, “unfavorable” peace and order situation, and use of classrooms as temporary evacuation centers.
The Education chief cited recent “incidents” when DepEd personnel were involved in criminal activities or became victims of crime.
“Some teachers go out with their students, and they’re involved in, should we say, criminal, not really criminal activities, but they are involved in crime. It’s either they become suspects or victims,” she explained.
“In one case, we had a teacher having a drinking spree with a student, who stabbed him. So, these are instances that are preventable if our
teaching and non-teaching staff recognize there should be a line not crossed.”
On a sexual harassment case in Cavite, Duterte said a preventive suspension was imposed on teachers involved, while students were assisted in the legal process.
DepEd officials and employees are also told to refrain from engaging in any relationship or activity that may affect their ability to “make objective decisions” in their performance of duty.
They should also respect the rights of others and avoid any activity that is not in accordance with the “law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety, and public interest.”
The department said it expects all personnel to always treat and approach their colleagues, employees, and learners with the “highest degree of professionalism, skills, and excellence.”
The new order also states that Education employees and officials should always consider the legal implications of what they post on
social media and should not take part in spreading rumors or false information.
Additionally, they shall not make online attacks against their fellow employees, nor “disparage” DepEd, and must always consider the reputation and honor of the education department.
The order said that official DepEd email addresses should only be used for work-related engagements and never for personal social media accounts, profiles, and other activities.
The new DO also underscores the reminder to never engage in partisan activities, including “seeking endorsements, recommendations, contributions, support, consideration, political accommodation, or any intervention from other government personnel or similar entities outside DepEd.”
DepEd also prohibits “soliciting favorable actions from politicians” and “requesting or obtaining support or endorsement from any third party in the hiring, transfer, promotion, removal or any other personnel movement.”
In raising issues or concerns regarding basic education, DepEd told employees and officials that these should be directed to the formal and appropriate DepEd channels, including the Office of the Secretary, or through the concerned Assistant Secretary and Undersecretary, without resorting to invention from any third party.
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