By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Monday announced that the calendar for schools affected by the Taal’s unrest has been modified to help ensure that the required number of school days are met.
During the “Laging Handa” press briefing with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH) – including Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar – at the New Executive Building (NEB) in Malacañang, Briones announced that the DepEd Region IV-A has submitted a proposed modified school calendar to make up for the lost school days due to Taal’s eruption.
“In anticipation of the return of the children to their homes – because schools are their homes – we have proposed a modified school calendar… we hope that we will be able to complete the required school days – face to face interaction – by April,” Briones said.
Based on Education Cluster Report as of January 27, DepEd data showed that 588, 320 learners in 1,054 schools remain affected by the Taal’s volcanic eruption in eight divisions under Region IV-A.
While classes in other affected areas have already resumed, classes in four divisions remain suspended. The suspension of classes at all levels in 4 DepEd divisions in Region IV-A are affecting 548, 672 learners in 1,010 schools. A total of 17, 940 of DepEd’s personnel are also affected by Taal’s unrest.
“We will be having classes on Saturdays and Sundays – with due apologies to our learners and teachers,” Briones added. “We have a post modified school calendar which will enable the affected schools to catch up,” she added.
Based on the School Calendar for SY 2019-2020, the last day for the current school for public schools is scheduled on April 3, Friday. In the modified school calendar, the schedule for the final examinations has been adjusted. The School Year-end preparations, graduations, recognition and moving up may be scheduled between April 1 to 6.
Meanwhile, Briones also reiterated DepEd’s appeal to the local government units to provide multipurpose centers for victims of disasters instead of using schools as evacuation centers which further disrupts classes.
DepEd’s latest data showed that hundreds of schools in eight divisions under Region IV-A are still being used as Evacuation Centers (ECs). Public schools in the divisions of Batangas, Batangas City, Cavite, Gen. Trias City, Laguna, Lipa City, and San Pablo City and Tanauan City are currently being used as ECs by thousands of families including hundreds of learners.
Currently, DepEd said that 3, 103 classrooms in 330 schools are being used as temporary shelters of 25, 545 families or 84, 952 individuals – 18, 529 of which learners.
With the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) lowering Taal’s status to Alert Level 3, Briones said that “we would look at this not with complete relief but as a breathing space and as an opportunity to catch up with what is lacking – to clean up and so on – and also to trace displaced learners and personnel.”
In response to queries if DepEd can allow children to complete their grade level or graduate without attending classes, Briones said that “they have to comply with the requirements of the law” which states that for the SY 2019-2020, there should be 203 school days.