Mandaue City implements blended learning amid rising heat index

Mandaue City Hall
Mandaue City Hall (File photo: Mandaue City Public Information Office)

AS THE sweltering heat continues to grip, Mandaue City has announced the implementation of blended learning in public schools from daycare, and kindergarten to senior high school starting Thursday, April 4, 2024, until the end of the month.

Mayor Jonas Cortes made the directive through his signed Executive Order No. 18 on Wednesday, April 3, in response to the increasing discomfort caused by the rising heat index, which has been affecting the conducive learning environment for students attending face-to-face classes.

They became the 11th local government unit (LGU) in Cebu to adopt changes in the learning mode due to prevailing weather conditions.

However, unlike the first 10 LGUs that fully suspended physical classes and shifted to modular distance learning, Mandaue City's approach differs.

While modular distance learning, where learners utilize self-learning modules in either print or digital format, is typically implemented in areas with intermittent internet connection or in rural settings, Mandaue City has opted for a blended learning approach.

This means that physical classes will continue with adjustments for student safety and comfort during the dry hot season, while blended learning combines traditional face-to-face teaching with online instruction.

The 10 LGUs that have already announced a shift to learning with modules include Lapu-Lapu City, Liloan, Consolacion, City of Naga, Talisay City, Toledo City, San Fernando, Ronda, Minglanilla, and Cordova.

"It was recommended that a shift from full face-to-face classes to a blended learning mode of partial face-to-face and modular mode would be the best course of action in all public schools in Mandaue City as a precautionary action to the increasing heat index," Cortes said.

In a meeting of the board at Mandaue Science High School in Barangay Ibabao-Estancia on Wednesday, Dixie Ortiz, president of Mandaue’s Parents Teachers Association, expressed concern about the safety of elementary school pupils if they were to be dismissed at 9 a.m.

Ortiz pointed out that most parents are already at work by this time, leaving children either to walk home unaccompanied or remain at school until their parents can pick them up.

Additionally, parents with children attending afternoon classes will face challenges in sending them to school, particularly if they have work commitments.

Thus, the mayor said that schools will categorize and divide classes into two groups or sets of students to ensure proper ventilation, spacing, and prevent overcrowding, which may worsen the effects of high temperatures.

Set A learners will attend face-to-face classes every 6 to 11 a.m. on Monday and Wednesday, while Set B learners will do the same but on Tuesday and Thursday. Meanwhile, Friday will be allotted to students who will need intervention or further help from the teacher.

The City added that the same blended learning scheme will be applied to daycare pupils.

Director Salustiano Jimenez of the Department of Education Central Visayas (DepEd 7) informed SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, that these LGUs possess the authority to suspend face-to-face classes similar to procedures during typhoons and other calamities.

Additionally, aside from local chief executives, Jimenez said in a prior interview that both public and private school administrators also have the discretion and authorization to transition to modular classes.

According to DepEd Order 37 of 2022, such decisions are permitted “in cases of unfavorable weather and environment, such as, but not limited to extremely high temperatures."

Based on Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration's (Pagasa) heat index database, Cebu will reach 37 degrees Celsius on Thursday and a higher 38 degrees Celsius on Friday, April 5.

Both figures fall under Pagasa's extreme caution category, meaning heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible, and further activity may result in a heatstroke.

SunStar Cebu previously reported that the heat index in Cebu could potentially reach a "dangerous" 51 degrees Celsius in the coming months, leading to heat cramps, exhaustion, and potentially heatstroke with prolonged outdoor exposure.

Weather specialist Jhomer Eclarino of Pagasa Visayas attributed the increase in the heat index to the El Niño phenomenon and the ongoing dry, hot summer.

He said that historical data from Pagasa indicates Cebu typically experiences its highest temperatures in May.

On May 31, 2010, during the El Niño phenomenon, the province recorded a surface temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, coinciding with its highest heat index of 49 degrees Celsius in history. (KJF)


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