DepEd 7 stands firm as calls to shorten school year amid intense heat intensify

DepEd 7 stands firm as calls to shorten school year amid intense heat intensify
(File Photo)

AMID calls from parents and guardians to shorten the school year due to the intense heat causing discomfort for students, a local education executive dismissed the possibility.

Director Salustiano Jimenez of the Department of Education Central Visayas (DepEd 7) told SunStar Cebu that the current school year has already been shortened.

Jimenez added that further changes to the school calendar to accommodate the request would now be illegal.

"We are bound by law to adhere to a required number of school days. In fact, we have already reduced them," he said last April 11, 2024.

He emphasized that there must be a minimum of 180 non-negotiable school days for classes to be held each school year.

DepEd Order No. 23 in 2016, highlighted that both public and private elementary and secondary schools are mandated to strictly observe 202 school days, with 180 days designated as non-negotiable contact time for teachers.

Intense heat

As temperatures rise, the debate over shortening the school year has heated up, with growing concerns about students' well-being while enduring the heat in classrooms.

A Facebook user commented on SunStar Cebu's post on the high heat index suggesting that classes should be suspended as it will only danger learners at schools.

"I really pity the kids at school. I know it's just too hot there knowing that there are many (students) inside the classrooms," she said.

Recently, Cebu has experienced a heat index under the extreme caution category for consecutive days.

This classification, which ranges from 32 to 41 degrees Celsius, suggests that heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible, and further activity may result in heatstroke.

At least 22 local government units in Cebu have independently announced the suspension of face-to-face and will shift to the distance modular learning mode.

Mandaue City, however, will implement a blended learning approach, where shortened physical classes are still required with a combination of online-based instruction.

However, in a memorandum dated April 5, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has suspended classes indefinitely in the province because of the extreme heat.

'Will only worsen'

Jimenez acknowledged that parents and guardians are only thinking about the health and safety of learners, but he said that such calls might also affect their learning.

The education official said that they would only hurt the students since they are still in the recovery period for addressing learning gaps, and shortened classes would not help.

"I know some parents and community people would argue that 'no class again? no more learnings for children' it will only make it worse," he said.

Recent Programme for International Student Assessment results revealed that 15-year-old Filipino learners achieved one of the lowest scores among 81 countries, with an average reading score of 347 points, notably below the global average of 476.

The country ranked 77th out of 81 globally in the assessment, scoring approximately 120 points lower than average.

In Math, the country scored 355, and in Science, it scored 373.

Shortened already

Due to the heat, DepEd will shorten the current school year 2023-2024, initially scheduled to end on June 14, moving it earlier to May 31 to accommodate the return to the old school calendar.

The fourth grading periodical test will be held on May 16 and 17, with the closing rites scheduled for May 29, 30, and 31.

Jimenez previously announced the decision to shift the school year's start back to June in response to complaints about the challenges of conducting classes during the hot season starting in March.

For the next school year 2024-2025, classes will start on July 29 and end on May 16, 2025.

Jimenez said they will revert to the June opening of classes again starting in the 2025-2026 school year and subsequent years. (KJF)


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