Extreme heat forces more Eastern Visayas schools to shift to distance learning

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Tacloban City (CNN Philippines, May 18) – More schools in Eastern Visayas are shifting from face-to-face classes to other learning modalities due to excessive heat experienced by the region for the past couple of weeks.

According to the regional office of the Department of Education (DepEd), 387 public schools have already shifted to distance learning and 267 to modular learning.

Some 12 public schools implemented online learning while 108 opted for blended learning.

Shifting from in-person classes to distance learning or blended learning modality is supported by Department Order 037, Series of 2022 which states that “Modular Distance Learning” is allowed in the event of a cancellation or suspension of classes due to natural calamities, disasters, and human-induced hazards to ensure learning continuity and that learning competencies and objectives are met.

Around 115,262 learners from kindergarten to Grade 12 are affected by the shift of learning modalities, according to DepEd Eastern Visayas Information Officer Jasmin Calzita.

In some schools in the region, some teachers opted to conduct their classes outside the classroom and under a tree shade, like in Bacayawan Elementary School in Llorente, Eastern Samar.

In Tacloban City, several schools are implementing the blended learning modality. The city schools division had not yet submitted a report to the regional office on how many public schools in the city had shifted to other learning modalities due to extreme heat.

On Wednesday, the heat index in Tacloban City reached 42°C.

Manlurip Elementary School in San Jose district is one of the schools currently implementing blended learning to "prevent untoward incidents due to extreme heat." It will last until July 9, but may be shortened if the weather in June becomes favorable for in-person classes.

Hindi tayo makapag full in person dahil mainit na sa hapon [We cannot conduct full in-person classes because of the heat in the afternoon]," school principal Edever Zanoria said.

"So sa [in the] morning, we have the usual in-person classes wherein students and teachers nasa classroom sila [are in the classrooms], then sa [in the] afternoon we provide them with modules and teachers make activities,” the principal added.

Classrooms in Manlurip Elementary School are smaller compared to other campuses of the city — others could be divided into two to accommodate two sections.

Manlurip Elementary School's 16 classrooms serve 420 students from kindergarten to Grade 6, with each section ranging from 30 to 40 students.

Helen Noynay, whose son is currently in Grade 1, said that although she prefers having her child studying inside a classroom, she supports the current set-up to protect her child's health.

“Okay lang naman sir, kaso minsan inuubo siya tapos nagkakalagnat. Kagaya ngayon, kailangan lagi siyang may dalang extrang damit upang makapagpalit ng damit pag pinagpapawisan,” Noynay said.

[Translation: His health is okay but sometimes he will experience a cough and eventually a fever. Like now, he needs to bring extra clothes so that he could change when he perspires.]

With the extreme heat, parents of Manlurip students and even teachers are hoping that the current school year calendar will be reverted to the old one, which is from March to June.