LGUs now more proactive

LGUs now more proactive

Amid multiple health, environment crises

Apr 3, 2024, 5:09 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz


Unlike before when strong rains have already caused massive floods in the metro before local governments would suspend or cancel at the last-minute classes in public schools, this time with El Nino’s unbearable heat, they are proactively canceling or suspending classes beforehand, as advised by the Department of Education (DepEd).

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged school principals to implement blended learning amid parents’ concerns about the threats of pertussis or whooping cough and hot weather.

This way, LGUs need not decide on a daily basis but they already empower the school principals to instruct the teachers to inform their students of the learning modality to be adopted since El Nino is here to stay until May, or even longer.

Gatchalian reminded the principals that if there is a threat to the safety of students, “we can implement blended learning in schools amid fears of pertussis (which is steadily rising in some Visayan provinces) and hotter weather.”

“We can continue their studies and give priority to their needs and protection,” he added.

Class suspension

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, said at least six local governments in Western Visayas already suspended classes on April 1 due to the rise in temperature.

Iloilo City alone suspended classes for April 1 and 2 from preschool to senior high school.

To ensure that learning competencies and objectives are still met, DepEd Order No. 037 s. 2022 provides that modular distance learning, performance tasks, projects, or make-up classes shall be implemented in the event of canceled or suspended classes.

After consultations with stakeholders, including teachers and learners, the DepEd moved the end of school year 2023-2024 from June 14 to May 31. Gatchalian, who called for the gradual return to the old school calendar, supported the move.

Gatchalian recalled a finding of state weather agency PAGASA, which pointed out that while the current school calendar coincides with fewer days of extreme rainfall and less cancelation of classes due to tropical cyclones, there are also more school days with extremely hot temperatures.

DepEd reminded heads of public and private schools of their authority to suspend or cancel physical classes and just implement modular distance learning (MDL) modes because of extreme heat during the summer months.

“In consideration of the well-being of the learners affected by extreme climate conditions as they attend in-person classes, this office reiterates DepEd Order 037, Series of 2022, titled ‘Guidelines on the Cancellation or Suspension of Classes and Work in Schools in the Event of Natural Disasters, Power Outages/Power Interruptions and Other Calamities,” the DepEd said in its Memorandum No. 2023-077 dated April 20, PhilStar reported.

The agency’s DO 037 provides for the implementation of MDL in the event of cancellation or suspension of classes due to natural calamities, disasters and human-induced hazards “to ensure learning continuity and that learning competencies and objectives are met.

In its new memorandum, the DepEd specifically cited the “extremely high temperatures” as among the valid grounds for class suspension or cancellation.

“Additionally, and in relation to the announcement of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) last March 21, 2023, which marked the beginning of the warm and dry season…this office reminds school heads of their authority

The DepEd acknowledged that extreme heat can “considerably affect the conduct of classroom learning and put the learners’ health and well-being at risk.”

The agency directed schools division offices, through schools division superintendents, to monitor schools’ implementation of MDL during class suspension or cancellation and submit their reports to concerned regional directors.

The highest heat index recorded in the country was 55 degrees Celsius in Dagupan City, Pangasinan on May 1, 2023.

Pertussis outbreak

Meanwhile, pertussis outbreaks were also previously declared in Quezon City and Iloilo City. The provincial government of Cavite also followed suit days later.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported at least 40 deaths last March 27 due to pertussis cases recorded from January 1 to March 16.

Gatchalian also called on principals to implement health and safety measures in schools, including the promotion of good respiratory hygiene and proper and regular handwashing, to protect learners from pertussis.

Last Saturday, April 22, heat indices of 48 degrees and 47 degrees Celsius were recorded in Butuan City in Agusan del Norte and Legazpi City in Albay, respectively, prompting the state weather bureau to issue an extreme heat danger warning.

Heat index refers to the temperature felt by the human body relative to high humidity, according to PAGASA.

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