Some schools in Calabarzon hit by Taal eruption prepare for class resumption

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020   •   504

MANILA, Philippines – Several schools in Tagaytay City and in Calabarzon region have begun preparing for the possible resumption of classes next week amid the continuing activities of Taal Volcano.

Calabarzon Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) on Friday said some families temporarily staying in schools being used as evacuation centers have been transferred to other shelters.

Clean-up of classrooms which previously housed evacuees have also commenced in line with the directive of the Department of Education (DepEd).

“Kasi meron po tayong memorandum po from Department of Education na nagsasabing it should be 15 days after the disaster na dapat ay makabalik na sa mga regular schooling ang mga kabataan natin,” Calabarzon RDRRMC information officer Jovner Dupilas said.

From the previous 626 evacuation centers opened in the region, the number has gone down to 500 after they decongested some shelters to give way for the possible reopening of classes.

Dupilas added they are now identifying other facilities that may be used as temporary shelters for families who fled their homes amid the Taal Volcano unrest.

“Nag-iidentify tayo ng mga evacuation center na konti lang ‘yung bilang or ‘yung evacuation centers na hindi na ginagamit. For example, sa Sta. Rosa City, meron tayong regional evacuation center doon na ipinatayo at ngayon ay hindi pa ginagamit,” he said.

Some schools in Tagaytay that are blanketed by thick layers of ash spewed by Taal are also being cleaned.

Classes here were supposed to resume on January 23, Thursday but was postponed by local authorities.

“Isa sa dahilan po kaya hindi pa po kami nagpatuloy dahil hindi pa po lahat ng school ay ready. Tuloy-tuloy pa po yung paglilinis, kaya iyon po yung isa sa dahilan namin maliban po doon sa alert level,” Tagaytay City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Jose Clyde Yayong said.

DepEd earlier said it would recommend the resumption of classes on February 3 in areas that were affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

“Because things are calming down in certain places [and] in the schools which we believe can already be reopened, classes can be resumed starting February 3,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said at a press briefing Friday.

“There are places na mas natatamaan sa Cavite. There are places na mas natatamaan sa Laguna,” she added.

Areas in Batangas that are not heavily affected by the volcanic activities could reopen classes to accommodate learners displaced by the disaster, Briones said.

Data from the department revealed that 1,054 schools in Calabarzon (Region 4A: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) were affected by the suspension of classes as of January 23. Classes in some schools in the region were suspended indefinitely since Taal Volcano started erupting on January 12.

Although DepEd has recommended a date for the school reopening in the region, Yayong said they would have to depend on the updates and advise from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

“Titingnan po namin kasi sabi nga naming, what if isang taon siyang maging alert level four? So, depende po sa obserbasyon ng Phivolcs na iyon po ang sinusunod namin,” he said.

Taal Volcano remains under alert level 4, which means a hazardous eruption is imminent.

As of January 24, Friday, Phivolcs reported that Taal emitted a tall column of thick steam anew, signifying that the heating up of volcanic materials underneath the crater has intensified. The number of recorded volcanic quakes also increased to 466 from Thursday’s 444. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Benedict Samson and Vincent Arboleda)

DOH-Calabarzon to appeal decision to put Cavite, Rizal provinces under GCQ starting May 16

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) Region 4A will appeal the decision of the government to place Cavite and Rizal provinces under a relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) starting May 16 amid the continuing threat of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

DOH-4A regional director Eduardo Janairo said they will ask the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to reconsider its recommendation, which was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, to lift the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Cavite and Rizal provinces as these are among the areas in Calabarzon region that have recorded high COVID-19 infections.

“Gagawa kami ng appeal para ma-consider yung dapat i-consider sa Calabarzon kasi ang alam ko mas alam namin ito kesa sa kanila,” Janairo said.

Among the areas in Calabarzon region, only the Laguna province will be placed under a modified ECQ starting May 16 as stated in the resolution released by the IATF on Tuesday.

The IATF Resolution No. 35 states that a modified ECQ will be imposed on Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu City until May 31.

Latest data from the DOH-4A showed that Rizal province has 343 confirmed infections and 45 fatalities – the highest recorded in the region.

Laguna has 333 confirmed cases with 30 deaths and 171 recovered patients while Cavite reported 234 positive cases with 25 deaths.

“Hindi kami makapagsang-ayon doon dahil mali yun eh. Ang data nila with the local at saka national at dito sa region malaki ang discrepancy eh,” Janairo said.

The health official said he will also ask the IATF to consider the proximity and safety of Rizal and Cavite provinces to Metro Manila, which is the epicenter of COVID-19 in the country.

The IATF said provinces, cities, and municipalities characterized as low, moderate, and high-risk may appeal their quarantine classification to the task force’s screening and validation committee not later than May 13. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Sherwin Culubong)

‘Face to face’ classes subject to DOH clearance—Deped

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 11, 2020

The Department of Education (Deped) reiterated that face-to-face classes “shall only be allowed when the local risk severity grading permits, and subject to compliance with minimum health standards.”

Deped Secretary Leonor Briones said schools that would want to conduct face-to-face classes should first secure clearance from the Department of Health (DOH).

“There are places na zero [cases]. Like Bohol, nagkaroon sila ng dalawa, pero ngayong under control na (they had two cases but now the situation is under control). We have to get clearance from the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and DOH,” she said.

Briones also said that even if face-to-face classes will be allowed, the number of students in a classroom would be limited from 15 to 20 students per class.

Physical distancing and minimum health requirements directed by the DOH and the IATF-MEID will also be implemented.

Meanwhile, Deped Usec. Anne Sevilla said private schools can begin the opening of classes before August 24. However, the Education Department will not allow the face-to-face classes.

“Ang choice ng mga eskwelahan (The options of schools) will depend on the local public health situation. So definitely, sa locality ay hindi pwede ang face-to-face, (in the locality, face-to-face is not allowed)” she said. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Gatchalian says home-based learning may be ‘new normal’ in upcoming school year

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Learning from home may become the “new normal” for millions of students when school year 2020-2021 opens in August, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, said that the Department of Education (DepEd) should use every platform to ensure the continued education and safety of more than 27 million learners amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

He said the mix of digital, low-tech, and no-tech methods will help DepEd reach all learners, especially those in the far-flung areas without access to the internet.

Since not all learners have connectivity and available gadgets for online-based learning, the senator said that television and radio will be key to reaching more learners nationwide.

“Marami pa rin sa ating mga mag-aaral sa buong bansa ang hindi nakakagamit ng internet, kaya malaki ang potensyal ng radyo at telebisyon upang maipagtuloy natin ang edukasyon sa loob ng ating mga tahanan,” Gatchalian said.

“Sa pagpasok ng SY 2020-2021, mahalagang magamit natin lahat ng paraaan upang maipagpatuloy ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan at mapanatili ang kanilang kaligtasan,” he added.

The lawmaker also proposed that the number of subjects under DepEd’s Learning Continuity Plan be reduced only to core subjects amid the health crisis situation.

He also suggested that the time leading to the opening of classes on August 24 should be spent on preparing teachers, parents and learners on using different tools for home-based learning.

The DepEd earlier said it is studying various modes of learning for students depending on the situation in their areas. Its guidelines will be released when finalized.

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