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

Robie de Guzman

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)

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