By Stephanie Sevillano

(File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday said it will study calls to revert school breaks to the old or pre-pandemic setup.

In a Viber message, DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said the department will look into the matter amid summer heat-related risks.

“We will take note of the suggestions and study the matter,” he said.

Poa initially said department has “no plans” to revert the school breaks from April to May.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian earlier called to bring back the June to March school calendar, considering the risks of heat exhaustion during the summer months.

Likewise, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) chairperson Vladimer Quetua said that classes were found to suffer from the harsh heat effect, based on a virtual survey conducted from March 24 to 27.

Hindi mapalagay ang mga bata at hindi makapakinig sa leksyon, nagkukumpulan sila sa electric fan, laging nagpapaalam na pupunta sa canteen para uminom ng tubig, mga pawis na pawis at pagod na pagod (The learners feel uneasy and unable to focus in classes, they gather near the electric fan, and they keep on asking to go to canteens to drink water, they are sweating and tired),” he said.

In the said survey, 87 percent of the 11,706 public school teachers attested that learners are having a hard time focusing due to “intolerable” heat.

Poa, however, said that schools have the option to resort to blended learning if the school setup.

“School heads have the discretion to suspend in-person classes and immediately switch to ADM (alternative delivery modes) or blended learning if the environment is not conducive to learning,” he added.

Last March 23, 83 out of 2,121 participating learners from Grades 8, 9, 11 and 12 were reported to be hospitalized following an unannounced fire drill in Cabuyao, Laguna which was conducted amid scorching weather.

“Some learners showed signs of difficulty in breathing. Immediately, these learners were separated from the rest and were stationed at the First Aid Tent. After around 10 minutes, the learners were told to go back to their classrooms with their subject teachers,” the DepEd said.

“Other learners who showed similar symptoms from heat exhaustion were given immediate attention by their teachers while other school personnel requested an ambulance from the Barangay Mamatid Office to bring these learners to the nearest health facilities for further medical attention,” it added.

On March 24, 32 learners were also brought to the hospital due to dizziness during a regular class, which later on led to the suspension of classes in Cabuyao.

Weather and health authorities cautioned the public to take precaution as the country will continue to see sizzling temperatures, with this year’s highest heat index logged at 47 degrees Celsius in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro on March 25.

Heat index, also known as “human discomfort index,” refers to the apparent temperature being felt by humans.

The DepEd, meanwhile, assured to make inquiries on the activity to improve the conduct of the unannounced drills in schools moving forward.

Under DepEd Order No. 53, series of 2022, unannounced fire and earthquake drills are required to be conducted in public schools nationwide. (PNA)