DepEd reiterates new class suspension guidelines in times of calamities

School children make their way down a flooded street in Manila November 15, 2007. The Department of Education (DepEd) has issued new guidelines on class suspensions in times of natural disasters and calamities. (Photo: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)
School children make their way down a flooded street in Manila November 15, 2007. The Department of Education (DepEd) has issued new guidelines on class suspensions in times of natural disasters and calamities. (Photo: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)

Department of Education (DepEd) Spokesperson Michael Poa on Sunday (September 25) confirmed the effectivity of the new guidelines for in-person and online classes in times of natural disasters and emergencies.

DepEd Order (DO) No. 37, or the “Guidelines on the Cancellation or Suspension of Classes and Work in Schools in the Event of Natural Disasters, Power Outage/Power Interruption and other Calamities,” was signed by Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte on September 1, and uploaded to the DepEd website and filed with the Office of the National Administrative Register on September 20.

Under the new DepEd order, in-person and online classes and work from Kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as in the Alternative Learning System (ALS), are automatically suspended in schools whose local government unit (LGU) is under any tropical cyclone wind signals (TCWS) by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Mayors and other local chief executives will have the prerogative to suspend classes in areas not issued a TCWS but experiencing bad weather.

In-person and online classes and work in schools whose areas and LGUs are issued with orange and red rainfall warnings by PAGASA are likewise automatically canceled, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and also in the ALS.

“Local chief executives shall decide on the cancellation or suspension of classes if their LGU is issued a Yellow Rainfall Warning by PAGASA or in cases where there are torrential rains in specific or all areas of the LGU, but is not issued an alert by PAGASA,” the guidelines also stated.

The DO 37 also said that if the TCWS, rainfall, or flood warning was issued after classes have already begun, schools shall immediately cancel the classes and work, and send everyone home if it is safe to do so, or if not, schools have the obligation to keep the students and personnel until it is safe for them to go home.

LGUs are given the power to suspend classes if their respective areas are experiencing torrential rains or floods but not under any warning by PAGASA.

Meanwhile, in cases of earthquakes, in-person and online classes and work in areas where the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) declared a PHILVOLCS Earthquake Intensity Scale (PEIS) V or above are suspended.

Mayors and other local chief executives are given the prerogative to suspend classes if their areas are under PEIS IV or below, while school principals can also suspend classes in their schools if their assessment shows that the integrity of their school buildings has been compromised.

The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Team Heads of each school are tasked to clear the return of students and other school personnel in buildings and other school structures.

In times of power outages, DO 37 said that there will be no automatic class suspensions if there are power outages or interruptions in schools, but school officials are given the discretion to cancel classes if it results in a “poor learning environment.”

Students who miss learning activities due to the abovementioned events will be given due consideration in their attendance and completion of learning tasks, while private schools, community learning centers, and other local state universities and colleges are given the option of whether to abide by the DO or not.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.

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