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

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020   •   1257

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)

COVID-19 vax requirement for teachers handling in-person classes not discriminatory – DepEd

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday said its policy requiring teachers and non-teaching personnel involved in the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is not discriminatory.

In a statement, the DepEd reiterated its earlier statement that the policy is being implemented as a way of protecting students and personnel, as well as preventing the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

“The said policy does not and is not intended to unjustly discriminate against any DepEd employee who chooses not to be vaccinated,” the department said.

The DepEd said employees who are not vaccinated are “treated fairly” as they are still obliged to render work and receive compensation based on applicable alternative work arrangements.

The department also said it does not terminate employees on the sole ground of being unvaccinated.

It added that the policy is consistent with the government’s resolutions as well as Civil Service rules and regulations.

“This policy, particularly the requirement for teachers, with non-teaching personnel, handling face-to-face classes and performing in-school functions/tasks to be vaccinated, has been approved by the Office of the President,” the DepEd said.

“This is also in line with the Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Resolution Nos. 148B and 149 s. 2021, on the requirement for vaccination or negative RT-PCR result or antigen test result (if RT-PCR capacity is insufficient) for employees working on-site, in areas that have sufficient supply of vaccines as determined by the National Vaccines Operation Center,” it added.

The pilot in-person classes was implemented by DepEd in select schools in the country last year.

About 278 schools with over 15,000 students from Grades 1 to 3 and senior high school participated in the pilot run.

The DepEd earlier recommended the “progressive expansion” of face-to-face classes in areas under COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2, which means that only select schools in areas classified as low-risk for COVID-19 will be allowed to resume classes.

The agency is eyeing to start the progressive expansion of limited classes in February.

DepEd eyes expansion of in-person classes by February

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) has recommended the “progressive expansion” of face-to-face classes in areas under COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2 starting next month.

During a pre-taped meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte aired on Monday night, Education Secretary Leonor Briones explained that the expansion of the pilot physical classes will be progressive, which means that only select schools in areas classified as low-risk for COVID-19 will be allowed to resume classes.

“Hindi ‘yung lahat-lahat sabay-sabay. Kung ang isang lugar ay Alert Level 1 and 2, selective, puwedeng mag-expand ng face-to-face,” Briones said.

The DepEd chief said the expansion of face-to-face classes will start in February, with the concurrence of the local government units (LGU) and parents’ consent.

“Iyong framework ng shared responsibility, patuloy. Iyong pag-concur ng LGUs, alam na alam namin ito, conscious kami at saka parents’ consent, requirement pa rin, Mr. President. Hindi kami mag-e-expand ng basta-basta na hindi kami mangangatok sa local governments at saka hindi namin makuha iyong written consent ng mga parents,” Briones said in her report to the president.

“Iyon ang aming proposal, Mr. President. February ang pag-e-expand pero maingat pa rin, taking into consideration the advice of the Department of Health, the LGUs, as well as now the Department of Justice,” she added.

Briones reiterated that only fully vaccinated teachers and non-teaching personnel will be allowed to join the face-to-face classes. Participation of vaccinated students will also be preferred.

“Ang sabi namin, only vaccinated teachers and non-teaching personnel na vaccinated will participate kung tayo ay mag-implement ng faceto-face. At saka ‘yung participation ng vaccinated students, kasi in-announce na ni (vaccine czar) Secretary (Carlito) Galvez na by March, by April, mag-umpisa na tayo sa mga bata, iyon preferred natin ‘yun. So iyon ang aming proposal, Mr. President,” she said.

Briones said 278 schools with about 15,000 students participated in the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes last year.

Around 28 schools from Metro Manila joined the program last December but its resumption was suspended earlier this January due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.

Other regions with high coronavirus infections also suspended limited in-person classes but classes in areas under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 have continued.

The DepEd earlier allowed schools and local education offices to suspend classes for up to two weeks over rising COVID-19 cases.

Classes in all grade levels in CALABARZON suspended from January 17 to 29 due to COVID-19 surge

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

The Department of Education (DepEd) in CALABARZON has ordered the suspension of classes in all grade levels in the region starting January 17 to 29 amid the rapid increase in COVID-19 infections.

In a memorandum signed by Regional Director Francis Cesar Bringas, the DepEd said that the suspension order is in support of the region’s “initiative for safe operations and well-being of stakeholders.”

“This suspension includes all other school activities, whether physical or virtual (online), that involve school-based personnel, learners, and parents,” it said.

DepEd CALABARZON also said that the schedule of midyear break on January 31 to February 5, 2022, shall remain.

“Schools Division Offices are encouraged to do necessary adjustments in the implementation of the curriculum after these suspension dates particularly when new directives are issued,” it said.

Meanwhile, the DepEd also urged private schools to exercise their own discretion relative to the suspension of classes and K to 12 learning activities when COVID-19 risks in their respective areas are high.

CALABARZON region includes the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon.

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