As the majority of public and private schools have reopened and resumed in-person classes for School Year 2022-2023, the perennial dilemma whenever a typhoon or a disaster affects the classes is inevitably back again. Last week, when tropical storm Florita affected most of the Luzon island, nearly all provinces and cities suspended classes for at least two days. There are still some parents and learners who are not fully aware as to which agency is responsible for the cancellation of classes in the event of such class disruptions caused by natural disasters. Is it the Department of Education (DepEd) for basic education or the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for college level or is it the respective local government unit?

The answer to this question is given in DepEd Order No. 14 s.2021 titled Guidelines on the Cancellation or Suspension of Classes and Work in Government Offices Due to Typhoons, Flooding, Other Weather Disturbances, and Calamities. This DepEd Order was issued to provide guidance regarding the cancellation or suspension of classes and work in the Department of Education (DepEd) due to typhoons, flooding, other weather disturbances and calamities is governed by Executive Order (EO) No. 66, s. 2021 titled Prescribing Rules on the Cancellation or Suspension of Classes and Work in Government Offices Due to Tlphnons, Floodin4, Otter Weather Dbturbances, Calamities as operationalized by DepEd Order (DO) No. 43, s. 2012 titled Guidelines on the Implementation of Executive Order No. 66. By safeguarding learners and personnel from unnecessary physical dangers that they may be exposed to, these policies protect the constitutional rights to life, health, safety, and property in times of calamities.

Based on this issuance, there is a basis for the automatic suspension/cancellation of classes and work according to the weather bulletins issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA, particularly the Tropical Cyclone Wind Signals (TCWS).

When TTCWS No. I (i.e. weather disturbance is expected in 36 hours) is raised by PAGASA, public and private kindergarten classes, regardless of learning delivery modality in the affected areas, shall be automatically cancelled or suspended. Teaching school personnel, including ALS teachers, solely handling cancelled or suspended classes are not required to report to work, regardless of working arrangement adopted by the school, in consideration of the work/service that they have to render during make-up classes.

When TCWS No. 2 (i.e. weather disturbance is expected in 24 hours) is raised by PAGASA, public and private kindergarten!, elementary and secondary (1.e. Jutlor aad Senior High School classes, regardless of learning delivery Modality in the affected areas, shall be automatically cancelled or suspended. Teaching school personnel, including ALS teachers, solely handling cancelled or suspended classes are not required to report to work, regardless of working arrangement adopted by the school, in consideration of the work/service that they have to render during make-up classes.

When TCWS No. 3 or higher (i.e. weather disturbance is expected 18 hours or less) is raised by PAGASA, classes in all levels, regardless of learning delivery modalities used by elementary and secondary schools; and work ln all DepEd oIllces, regardless of work arra[genent, in the affected areas shall be automatically cancelled or suspended. Central, Regional, Schools Division Office, and teaching and/or non-teaching school personnel who are members of DRRM Teams shall continue to render the necessary services, guided by the succeeding provisions on the activation of DRRM Teams.

For Localized Cancellation/Suspension of Classes and Work for Natural and/or Human-Induced Calamities in both public and private schools, regardless of learning delivery modality, and work in government offices shall be at the discretion of local chief executives in their capacity as chairpersons of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC).

The resumption of classes for LGU-declared localized cancellation/suspension shall be decided by the Local Chief Executive. Such resumption shall be made in coordination between the Local Chief Executive and the Schools Division Superintendent. Prior arrangements or agreements may be made between the Schools Division Superintendent and the Local Chief Executive to establish mechanisms and parameters on the resumption of classes, consistent with governing law, rules, and health and safety protocols. Varying contexts, challenges, and readiness, and safety of communities and offices shall be considered in the determination of the resumption of classes, which may differ for each learning delivery modality or school.

The DepEd still maintains that parents and guardians have the ultimate responsibility for determining whether their children should proceed with their studies through any learning delivery modality in consideration of their physical and/or mental health. This applies even if no order for cancellation/suspension of classes has been issued. Parents and guardians are advised to check for media advisories coming from PAGASA, NDRRMC, RDRRMCs, LDRRMCs, or the Office of the President itself.