Schools should decide on class suspension, mayor says

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas. (Rjay Castor photo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas on Tuesday said he would let schools decide on the suspension of face-to-face classes amid the searing heat.

In a statement, Treñas said that he will be issuing a directive for school heads to provide a work-from-home setup as well as an executive order cancelling all outdoor flag ceremonies, citing persistent heat in the city.

The act was based on the recommendation of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office-Operations Center (CDRRMO-OpCen).

“In view of the increasing heat index due to the El Niño phenomenon, I am coming up with a directive for the school heads to decide to go on a work-from-home mode as provided under existing DepEd rules,” he stated.

“I will also be issuing an executive order for the cancellation of all outdoor flag ceremonies. This is to protect everyone during these times. These directives are based on consultations with the [CDRRMO].”

But as to whether physical classes would be suspended, Treñas said that decision should be left to the schools, because “the school heads know the situation in their schools.”

He added that the CDRRMO-OpCen’s recommendation was based on the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Department Order No. 37 series of 2022.

“Due to the high heat conditions caused by the summer season and El Niño, the Iloilo City Operations Center recommends that the City Schools Division inform schools about the possibility of shifting to alternative learning modes. This empowers schools to assess their specific situations and take appropriate action based on DepEd D.O. 37, s. 2022,” the CDRRMO-OpCen’s recommendation read.

DepEd D.O. No. 37 s. 2022 does not have explicit guidance on El Niño or other heat-related phenomena but mandates the implementation of modular distance learning, performance tasks, projects, or make-up classes in the event of cancelled or suspended classes.

“In adherence to the provision of DepEd Order No. 14, s. 2021, learners who miss learning activities due to class suspensions brought about by various disruptions like disasters and/or emergencies due to natural or human-induced hazards shall be accorded due consideration in their attendance and the completion of their learning tasks,” the order read.

The mayor stated during his press conference on Monday, March 11, that he will be relying on the DepEd’s recommendation to declare a suspension of face-to-face classes.

The city’s heat index according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) as of Tuesday, March 12, was at 40 degrees Celsius, which is classified as a level of ‘Extreme Caution’.