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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Up to school heads to suspend classes due to El Niño — DepEd

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The Department of Education (DepEd) said the heads of schools can decide if face-to-face classes need to be suspended due to the extreme heat brought by the El Niño phenomenon.

El Niño is likely to persist until May 2024, authorities said.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Francis Bringas said: “Since they are the school managers, they are given that authority to suspend classes and we expect that they will exercise very wise discretion when it comes to the suspension of classes, including the coming up of intervention activities for lost hours.”

Classes at all levels in Negros Occidental have been suspended since Monday in anticipation of a 41°C heat index in the area, reports said.

Classes from elementary to senior high school levels were also suspended in Bacolod City to protect the students, teachers and other staff from unrelenting heat that may cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. A school in Metro Manila also prepared cold water dispensers and working electric fan units, and suspended outdoor activities.

Bringas said that students and teachers could wear more comfortable clothing aside from their regular uniforms to reduce the heat they feel while inside the schools.

The DepEd further said it will not suspend the implementation of “Catch-up Fridays,” despite the calls of some teachers’ groups due to supposed issues hounding the program.

Bringas said that the agency will strive to enhance the implementation of “Catch-up Fridays,” which aims to focus on improving Filipino learners’ reading skills and enhancing their academic performance.

“We do not agree with the calls to suspend the Catch-up Fridays. We will instead intensify or enhance the implementation of the program,” Bringas, quoted by GMA News, said.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) earlier urged DepEd to halt and review the Catch-up Fridays, arguing that teachers are the ones who bear the brunt of additional workload in the implementation of the program.

ACT said DepEd’s intervention programs to address learning crisis should be tailored to the individual needs of students.

Meanwhile, TDC said that DepEd should not hasten the implementation of the program as it may bring more problems to the education sector, rather than solving the learning losses among learners.

Bringas acknowledged that there are certain adjustments that the agency has to make to address the said concerns.

Among the solutions that DepEd aims to prioritize is the provision of reading materials for learners so that teachers or parents need not shoulder additional costs.

The agency also seeks to come up with structured activities for the subjects taken for the Catch-up Fridays.

DepEd earlier said that it does not authorize the selling of booklets or workbooks for the program, adding that school activities must not involve out-of-pocket costs.

It was on January 12, 2024, when DepEd started designating all Fridays throughout the current school year as a “catch-up” day to enhance the academic performance of students in the K to 12  Basic Education Program, considering their low proficiency levels in reading, based on national and international large-scale assessments.

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