EDITORIAL - In the hot zone

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - In the hot zone

As of yesterday, more local government units had ordered either the suspension of classes or a shift to remote learning as temperatures continued to rise. In Davao, fears of the dry, hot season setting off brush fires prompted the closure of Mount Apo park to visitors for the entire month.

A trending topic was the advice of former health secretary Janette Garin, now Iloilo first district representative, for women to eschew underwear while at home to prevent yeast infection. The advice was modified by the Department of Health and its chief, Ted Herbosa: instead of going commando, women can wear undergarments made of cotton, a breathable fabric that does not trap moisture.

At the Abellana National High School in Cebu City, an overheated electric fan set off a fire in a classroom, drawing concern from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers. ACT called for inspections of schools for compliance with fire safety standards. The teachers also pushed for better ventilation systems especially in crowded classrooms.

The pandemic lockdowns showed the difficulty of learning in a remote setup. Distance learning is likely more challenging today with the lifting of pandemic mobility restrictions to keep schoolchildren at home and focused on their formal education. The COVID pandemic forced an adjustment in the school calendar, with the school year continuing throughout the Philippine summer and ending as the monsoon season starts. This year’s onsite class suspensions should speed up the transition back to the old academic calendar that was designed for the tropical climate.

Those who want to keep the current school calendar argue that under the old setup, classes were also suspended regularly during typhoons and floods. The school break, however, is meant to give learners and teachers alike an opportunity to relax, to recharge their batteries after 10 months of formal education. The break is needed for both physical and mental health.

Summer is the time to enjoy the beaches and the cool highlands across the archipelago, to hold fiestas and May processions and go on pilgrimages to the numerous shrines. These can be done in the summer heat, but not when a storm surge is pounding the travel destinations and floods are keeping people even from stepping out into the street. While the transition back to the old school calendar is speeded up, the government should also heed the teachers’ call for better ventilation in public schools, and for their long-running call for smaller class sizes.

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