The government is carefully studying the proposal to move the school “summer” break to March due to hot weather, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Monday.
The President made the statement in an interview with broadcaster Erwin Tulfo, who asked if the government would bring back the school vacation to March instead of having it from June to July.
“We are carefully studying that because a lot of people are suggesting it since the lockdown is over and most schools are already implementing face-to-face classes,” he said.
The current academic break is scheduled from July to August, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Education also continues to study the proposal, agency spokesman Michael Poa told reporters yesterday, while the Alliance of Concerned Teachers suggested the DepEd adjust the school calendar to 185 school days so classes could return to their April-May summer break.
The proposal to change the summer vacation, according to the President, will be decided “very soon.”
“The system we are enforcing, which is the hybrid system where some are online and others are physically attending classes, means there are students who really want to attend class,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III on Monday urged the government and employers to suspend work during the hottest period of the day.
Pimentel made the call following weather bureau PAGASA’s announcement that it might issue an El Niño alert next month, along with the fear the phenomenon may last until next year.
“At least for outdoor work, it could be suspended from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the peak of the heat. It’s done in other countries… The important factor is the temperature level, if it’s already hitting the dangerous level,” Pimentel said.
He added that the break should not mean extending work hours and should be considered part of their rendered service.
Among those that must be covered by temporary work suspension are construction workers, street sweepers and traffic enforcers, Pimentel said.
“You were required to travel from your house to your workplace, when the temperature suddenly shot up to a dangerous level, you should no longer be required to work then. That’s not your fault, it should be paid,” he added.
Mr. Marcos said the World Health Organization is still considering the coronavirus as a health emergency.
The Geneva-based WHO would meet next month to assess if they would lift or continue to declare COVID-19 as a “public health emergency of international concern.”
The work suspension should be based on PAGASA’s advisory and actual temperature reading, the senator suggested.
Among those that must be covered by temporary work suspension are construction workers, street sweepers, and traffic enforcers, Pimentel added.
At the same time, Pimentel believes students should also be covered by suspension of face-to-face classes due to extreme heat, with either online classes or school day adjustments as alternatives.
“Where will you make students hide from the heat in a classroom? If there are too many school days lost, make-up classes could be held on Saturdays,” Pimentel said.
He also urged the DepEd to divert its confidential and other funds to improving the ventilation of school buildings.
The DepEd recently reiterated that school administrators can suspend face-to-face classes due to natural disasters, calamities, and human-induced hazards, but modular distance learning should be implemented to replace the canceled or suspended classes.
DepEd also said school heads can suspend in-person classes and implement modular distance learning due to extremely high temperatures which can put students’ health at risk.