5,844 schools suspend onsite classes due to extreme heat

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
5,844 schools suspend onsite classes due to extreme heat
Students use a cardboard box to protect themselves from the sun during a hot day in Manila yesterday. More than a hundred schools nationwide have shut their classrooms and resorted to alternative learning modes due to sweltering temperatures, which have hit danger levels.

MANILA, Philippines —  Of 47,678 public schools nationwide, 5,844 suspended onsite classes yesterday due to extreme heat aggravated by the El Niño phenomenon.

Based on data released by the Department of Education (DepEd), all regions in the country except for Caraga (Region 13) have recorded class suspensions as of yesterday, with schools opting to shift to alternative delivery mode (ADM) of learning such as online classes and use of modules.

Central Luzon has the highest record of schools suspending onsite classes at 1,124, followed by Central Visayas, 792; Soccsksargen, 678; Bicol region, 634 schools; Zamboanga peninsula, 610; and Western Visayas, 536.

In Metro Manila, 306 schools have suspended their onsite classes and switched to ADM.

Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao region and the Cordillera Administrative Region have around 1,300 schools that suspended their onsite classes and switched to ADM.

The DepEd has yet to release the figure on the number of students affected by class suspensions.

Yesterday’s data was the highest since schools nationwide started switching to alternative modes of delivering lessons due to extreme heat.

On Friday last week, 5,288 schools suspended onsite classes, with 3.6 million students affected.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier warned the heat index being felt across the country is expected to increase further and reach a dangerous level in May.

Despite this, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said the DepEd cannot immediately revert to the old academic calendar as it would sacrifice the vacation of teachers, students and school personnel.

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) earlier said that returning to the old school calendar — wherein classes run from June to March and vacation starts in April and May — seems doable this upcoming school year 2024-2025, without sacrificing the vacation.

On Wednesday, President Marcos said his administration is open to expediting the return to the old school calendar.

In a statement, the DepEd said it will seek clarification from the President regarding his pronouncement when he returns from his official travel to Washington for a trilateral summit with the US and Japan.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) has joined the call for the immediate reversion to the old school calendar starting SY 2024-2025.

“It is definitely possible to immediately revert to the pre-pandemic school calendar. For SY 2024-2025, if we open classes by July 29 of this year and end it by April 18, 2025, we will have a total of 175 school days,” said ACT chair Vladimer Quetua.

“It is crucial to reassess the situation especially now that the heat index across the country is expected to hit ‘danger’ level, according to PAGASA. We have to admit that our school infrastructure is not climate crisis resilient, not to mention the severe shortages in classrooms, teachers, and education support personnel that exacerbate the conditions endured by teachers and students,” he added.


?In Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, private and public school classes were suspended by municipal officials yesterday due to hot weather conditions and a power outage.

?Solano Vice Mayor Eduardo Tiongson said in a radio interview that due to the unstable weather and power conditions, students are suffering from nosebleeds and headaches while some teachers are experiencing hypertension.

?In the cities of Muntinlupa and Parañaque, two schools have suspended face-to-face classes.

?The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa yesterday announced that classes will be conducted through online synchronous modality due to the forecast 41-degree Celsius heat index in the city by the state weather bureau.

?In a separate advisory, the Parañaque National High School — Main has also modified the class schedule, suspending afternoon classes on Thursday and Friday.

?In Malabon, classes have also been adjusted.

?Public schools will observe a shortened period of in-person classes if the heat index reaches 39 to 41 degrees Celsius, according to a memorandum signed by Malabon Schools Division superintendent Cecille Carandang.

?Morning shift classes would be held from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. while afternoon classes would be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ? — Jun Elias, Nillicent Bautista, Mark Ernest Villeza, Jennifer Rendon, Romina Cabrera

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