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Monday, June 24, 2024

‘School heads may switch to ADM’

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The Department of Education reiterated over the weekend that school heads have the authority and responsibility to suspend face-to-face classes and shift to modular distance learning owing to extreme heat situations exacerbated by power outages in several parts of the country.

Agency spokesperson Michael Poa reminded school authorities of DepEd Order No. 37, series 2022, that provides for a shift to modular distance learning if classes are canceled or suspended “due to natural disasters, calamities, and human-induced hazards” to ensure learning continuity.

Poa showed a copy of a memo issued to public and private school heads dated April 20 that allows the switch to alternative delivery modes (ADM) “in cases of unfavorable weather and environment such as, but not limited to, extremely high temperatures which may considerably affect the conduct of classroom learning and put the learners’ health and wellbeing at risk.”

“Schools have different situations. Thus, school heads should determine what learning mode is best for them. We are concerned about the effect of hot weather on learners’ health. We remind the school heads that they can immediately switch to ADMs,” Poa told reporters.

Weather bureau PAGASA has warned of even warmer days ahead, with the heat index expected to hit 56°C in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, and 50°C in Cabanatuan.

On Thursday, the heat index was at 43°C in Dagupan in Pangasinan and at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.

A survey of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) showed that a huge majority of teachers in the country reported that students are finding it difficult to concentrate on their studies due to “dry season heat.”

Meanwhile, Occidental Mindoro has been placed under a state of calamity due to the 20-hour daily power outage for the last month and a half, according to Governor Eduardo Gadiano on Friday.

Based on DepEd Order (DO) 37, there will be no automatic class suspension if there are power outages or interruptions in schools. However, school officials also have the discretion to cancel classes if such power outages result in a “poor learning environment.”

In a Super Radyo dzBB interview on Sunday, Senate Committee on Basic Education chairman Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian pointed out that climate change is among the reasons why the school break should be reverted to April and May.

The lawmaker earlier said that it’s about time to return to the pre-pandemic school calendar, considering the number of students who have suffered from heat exhaustion lately.

“First, the children can play and have bonding time with their parents and family. Second, because it’s summer, they can just be left at home or they have the flexibility to stay at home or go to places without affecting their health,” Gatchalian said, explaining the benefits of summer school break.

He also reminded school heads to be alert during this warm and dry season and make the right decision when it comes to the health of the students and personnel.

In Occidental Mindoro alone, at least 145 students have been hospitalized since March due to extreme heat.

The ACT also suggested the adoption of 185 class days annually so that the school break would gradually revert to April and May after five years.

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