Reverting school calendar should be data-based, prioritize health, learning – solon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 27) — A lawmaker on Thursday said authorities should carefully analyze data before deciding on whether to revert to the old school calendar amid the hot weather that is causing a challenge in students’ learning.

“It has to be data-based, let’s study if it’s better to retain it now based on continuity of learning and health instead of just making a knee-jerk decision saying ‘balik na natin (let's return it), it’s too hot,” House Committee on Basic Education and Culture chairperson Roman Romulo told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

On Monday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the government is studying the call to return to the June-to-March academic year as the hot season becomes a hurdle for learning.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has said he agrees to the need to return to the old school calendar following the hospitalization of several students of the Gulod National High School-Mamatid Extension in Cabuyao, Laguna in March. They experienced dehydration and heat exhaustion after participating in a surprise fire drill in the afternoon heat.

Department of Education (DepEd) spokesman Michael Poa said early-April that the agency will form a group to study the proposal.

For now, school heads were authorized to implement alternative learning modes amid the hot weather, he added.

Based on the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’ forecast, the heat index for some parts of the country may reach over 40°C on Thursday, and as high as 42°C on Friday.

If the government decides to revert the school calendar, Romulo said the transition must be smooth.

"If they decide to revert based on data, it must be a smooth transition," he said. "Whatever they choose there will be challenges so at the end of the day we have to get everyone on board."

He suggested ways to protect students and teachers from the scorching heat, including avoiding outdoor events for now.

The DepEd can also order changes in school uniforms to adapt to the weather, he said. School authorities, teachers, and parents should work together in determining their “alert levels” on when is it safe to hold in-person classes, he added.

Romulo said he also supports adjusting or shortening class hours during the summer.

The Teacher’s Dignity Coalition earlier made a similar proposal to lessen the impact of the hot weather on students and teachers.