DepEd 7: School heads can suspend in-person classes in hot weather

DepEd 7: School heads can suspend 
in-person classes in hot weather
(Logo from DepEd website)

AMID the rising temperatures and heat index concerns, a Department of Education (DepEd) 7 official has reminded school principals of their authority to decide on suspending in-person classes and transitioning to remote learning if necessary.

DepEd 7 Director Salustiano Jimenez, in an interview on Thursday, March 14, 2024, said that under DepEd Order 37 of 2022, public and private school heads and principals have the discretion and are authorized to shift to modular classes “in cases of unfavorable weather and environment, such as, but not limited to extremely high temperatures.

Jimenez said the decision will vary, as some schools may not be significantly affected by the intense heat, while others are situated in areas directly exposed to the sun.

According to heat index records from the state weather bureau Pagasa, the highest heat index, or apparent temperature, logged in Pagasa-Mactan station peaked at 36 degrees Celsius on Saturday, March 16 -- the highest in the last five days, or from March 13-17.

A heat index of 37 degrees Celsius falls under the Extreme Caution category, based on the effect-based classification (33-41 degrees Celsius). Its effects on the human body may include heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Continuing activity could lead to heat stroke.

Unlike some private schools, most public schools in the country only rely on ceiling and electric fans.

Jimenez said school heads no longer require approval to suspend in-person classes from their respective school division heads, but only need to inform them of their decision.

The school divisions will then report to the regional office, which will review the necessity of suspending classes and transitioning to distance learning.

During the interview, Jimenez said no reports had been received yet of public or private schools in the region canceling face-to-face classes and transitioning to modular learning due to extreme heat.

However, he instructed school heads to monitor the heat index forecast regularly. The heat index, Pagasa said, is the temperature perceived by the human body, taking into account high humidity.

Central Visayas has not yet experienced intense heat as much as other regions like Dagupan in Pangasinan and Virac in Catanduanes, where the heat index has already exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.

In Cebu, Pagasa forecasts a 36-degree Celsius heat index until March 19, and warned the public of possible heat cramps and heat exhaustion.

It advised the public to limit outdoor activities, stay hydrated, avoid hot beverages and wear protective garments, such as hats, sleeved clothing and umbrellas when going outside. / EHP


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