Online classes over suspensions during disasters 'unrealistic, inhumane' — group

Online classes over suspensions during disasters 'unrealistic, inhumane' � group
Residents wade through floodwaters left by torrential rains of Typhoon Doksuri in Calumpit, Bulacan province on July 29, 2023.
AFP / Earvin Perias

MANILA, Philippines — Conducting online classes instead of suspending classes during disasters is “unrealistic and insensitive” as it may not be feasible for students and educators dealing with the impacts of calamities, a teachers’ group said Sunday. 

“In situations like typhoons and calamities, safety is our priority. How do we conduct online classes when your learner and his/her family is currently flooded?” Alliance of Concerned Teachers chairperson Vladimer Quetua said.

Department of Education spokesperson Michael Poa said in a post-State of the Nation Address forum last week that the agency is not suspending classes during calamities “to maximize learning continuity since we are in learning recovery mode.” Poa added that learners are expected to continue their education at home during disasters. 

Quetua, however, said this approach is “unjust and inhumane.”

“We understand the need to address the learning crisis, but in times when it’s more necessary to save lives, DepEd should not only focus on learning recovery,” he said in Filipino. 

According to DepEd’s updated guidelines on the cancellation of classes issued in 2022, modular distance learning, performance tasks, projects or make up classes shall be implemented in the event of suspended classes to ensure that learning competencies and objectives are still met. 

The policy stated that in-person, online classes and work in public elementary and high schools are automatically suspended in areas under tropical cyclone wind signals, orange and red rainfall warning and flood warning. Classes are automatically canceled in areas under Intensify 5 or above following an earthquake. 

DepEd also issued a memorandum earlier this year allowing schools to shift to alternative delivery modes during extreme weather events. 

Typhoon Egay (international name: Doksuri) battered Luzon last week, triggering floods and landslides, and forcing the cancellation of classes and the evacuation of thousands of people. 

A new cyclone, Severe Tropical Storm Falcon (international name: Khanun), is threatening more rain as areas hit by Egay were still trying to recover. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from The STAR/Janvic Mateo

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