In case of calamities, disasters: DepEd issues new class suspension rules

·Contributor
·3 min read
Students attend the first day of in-person classes, at a flooded school due to high tide, in Macabebe, Pampanga province, Philippines, August 22, 2022. The Department of Education (DepEd) has issued new class suspension guidelines during natural disasters or calamities. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)
Students attend the first day of in-person classes, at a flooded school due to high tide, in Macabebe, Pampanga province, Philippines, August 22, 2022. The Department of Education (DepEd) has issued new class suspension guidelines during natural disasters or calamities. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday (Sep 1) released revised guidelines on the suspension of classes and work in schools during natural disasters and calamities as face-to-face classes resume.

The DepEd Order No. 037 series of 2022, signed by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, protects the “safety and protection of learners and personnel from unnecessary physical dangers” during natural disasters and calamities.

"In times of disasters and calamities, safeguarding the learners and personnel from unnecessary physical dangers that they may be exposed to, and protecting their constitutional rights to life, health, safety, and property, remain to be the department's paramount consideration," the guidelines said.

According to the education agency, the rules cover students and employees in public schools, as well as all personnel in its central, regional, and division offices.

Meanwhile, private schools, community learning centers, and state or local universities and colleges (SUCs/LUCs) “have the option to abide” by the guidelines.

As per the DepEd order, in-person and online classes in all levels are “automatically canceled” during the following disasters and calamities:

Typhoons

Automatic cancellation applies in schools situated in Local Government Units (LGUs) issued with Tropical Cyclone Wind Signals (TCWS) 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

“If the TCWS is issued at a time when classes have already begun, the school shall immediately suspend the classes and work and send everyone home, if it is safe to do so. However, schools are obligated to keep the students and personnel safely in school if traveling has become unsafe,” the guidelines read.

LGUs meanwhile will be the ones to decide on the suspension of classes in case of strong winds not caused by a typhoon.

Heavy rainfall

In-person and online classes in all levels are automatically canceled in schools situated in LGUs issued with Yellow, Orange, and Red Rainfall Warning by PAGASA.

Like the typhoon advisory, schools are also expected to suspend classes and work should heavy rainfall happen when classes have already begun except if traveling outside has become unsafe.

LGUs meanwhile will decide on the cancellation or suspension of classes in cases of torrential rains even if they were not issued a Heavy Rainfall Alert by PAGASA.

Floods

In-person and online classes in all levels are automatically canceled in schools situated in LGUs issued with a Flood Warning by the state weather bureau.

“If the Flood Warning is issued at a time when classes have already begun, the school shall immediately suspend the classes and work and send everyone home, if it is safe to do so.”

LGUs are can also suspend classes in specific or all areas if there is flooding, even without a warning from PAGASA.

Earthquakes

In-person and online classes in all levels are automatically canceled in schools situated in LGUs where the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) declares an earthquake with an intensity of 5 or above.

School Principals meanwhile can suspend classes at any intensity scale if they assess buildings and other structures are in danger of collapsing.

Teachers and school employees are also not required to work, "except those who are mandated to render security, safety, finance, engineering, sanitation, health, and disaster response duties."

However, schools should be prepared to implement remote work in case of prolonged suspension of classes "to ensure that learning competencies and objectives are still met" according to DepEd.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings. The views expressed are her own.

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