66 heat-related illnesses logged among students in Central Visayas
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66 heat-related illnesses logged among students in Central Visayas

THE Department of Health (DOH) urged schools to refrain from conducting outdoor activities, noting the 67 heat-related illnesses recorded among students in at least two regions in the country, particularly those aged 12 to 21 years old.

In a Senate inquiry into the effects of intense heat on classes led by the Committee on Basic Education on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, DOH Epidemiology Bureau head Dr. Vito Roque said that out of the 67 cases recorded from January 1 to April 29, one was in Ilocos region, while the 66 others were in Central Visayas.

He said a 14-year-old student from Ilocos experienced difficulty in breathing due to heat exhaustion, while the students from Central Visayas suffered epigastric pain, hyperventilation and palpitations.

“Ito po yung mga bata na nasa isang street dance competition at sila po ay performers at dancers,” said Roque.

(These are the children who are in a street dance competition and they are performers and dancers.)

Of the 66 students from Central Visayas, 39 participants of a street dance parade during the Sinulog Festival in January experienced dizziness, loss of consciousness, fatigue, vomiting and hyperventilation.

The Sinulog Festival is celebrated in Cebu every January of each year.

No fatality was recorded in any of the regions related to extreme heat.

Meanwhile, Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary Francis Bringas said during the same hearing that they have already submitted a letter to the Office of the President recommending the end of School Year 2024-2025 in March 2025. This would mean that school calendar days for the school year will be reduced to 165 from the usual 180 to 220 days.

“The department has already submitted a letter to the Office of the President, presenting other options, including a more aggressive alternative of ending SY 2024-2025 in March,” he said.

“We respectfully appeal to the committee to allow the President time to study the options carefully. DepEd commits to implement this decision accordingly,” he added.

Considering the rainy season, which usually led to the suspension of classes, the DepEd earlier adjusted the school calendar, transferring the school break from April to May to June to July.

However, following the declaration of the summer season, the country experienced extreme heat that led to the cancellation of face-to-face classes.

Bringas said that due to extreme heat, a total of 7,605 schools nationwide have suspended in-person classes from April 1 to April 26, affecting almost seven million learners.

The DepEd earlier issued an order for the implementation of an adjustment on the activities on the remaining days of School Year 2023-2024 to gradually shift back to the April-to-May school break.

Under Department Order 03 series of 2024, the end of School Year 2023-2024 was moved to May 31, setting the two-month break from June 1 to July 26. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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