MANILA — Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian is calling for the return of school opening in June, following several cases of students collapsing or getting sick due to the hot weather.
“I agree with you kailangan ibalik 'yan (school calendar) sa dati… Mas maganda na ibalik natin sa dating April-May ang summer vacation," said Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate basic education, arts and culture committee.
"It will take a little bit of time kasi slow transition yan. Pero dapat ibalik na dahil yan ang naging. Kaugalian na natin,” he said on Tuesday.
(I agree with you that needs to be revised. It's better to bring back the April-May summer vacation. It will take a little bit time because that would require a slow transition. But we are already used to that.)
Prior to the pandemic, the basic education school calendar began in June and ended in March.
The opening of classes of elementary and high school students was later moved to August to lessen students’ difficulty in going to classes during the typhoon season.
The May elections held every 3 years was also considered, Gatchalian noted.
The pandemic also prompted the Department of Education to adjust the school calendar.
Gatchalian said he would call for a Senate oversight committee after their Holy Week break to further evaluate the situation in schools.
The senator made the statement after around a hundred students collapsed during a lunchtime fire drill in a school in Cabuyao, Laguna.
School officials, he said, should be very careful in implementing programs and observing protocols, especially during this period.
“Ang panawagan ko lang sa ating mga principals, especially this time, na mag-ingat lang dahil napakainit. At huwag tayong gagawa ng mga bagay na malalagay sa delikado ang mga bata natin dahil yung mga ganitong init, hindi natin alam kung may mga ibang sakit pa yung iba dyan baka may mangyari,” he added.
(My only appeal to our school principals, especially this time when it's so humid, is to be careful. Let us not initiate activities that would endanger the children due to the heat. We also don't know if they could catch other illnesses because of that.)
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) is in favor of the proposal to adjust the school calendar.
"Doon po sa inilabas naming survey na March 24-27, eh talagang terrible, miserable yung kaganpan sa loob ng paaralan. Idine-describe nga po ito na parang pugon, niluluto kami sa loob ng klase," ACT chairperson Vladimir Quetua said.
(In a survey we conducted from March 24 to 27, teachers said they've been terrible, miserable inside the classroom. They said being in the classroom is like being cooked in an oven.)
He said some teachers suggested that more air conditioning units should be purchased for classrooms. Ninety-sevent percent of teachers surveyed said they were only using electric fans, he added.
Quetua stressed, however, that building more classrooms and employing more teachers would be the long-term solution to the problem of overpopulation of classrooms.
"Ang pinakaunang numero unong dahilan talaga dyan ay yung siksikan talaga sa lobb ng klase. Regular talaga yung 50, 60 o 45 sa loob nito... Actually yun talaga yung solusyon talaga ‘no, dagdagan yung classroom, dagdagan ang mga guro," he said.
"Pero alam naman natin, yan ay nangangailangan ng budget, kaya yung aming panawagan ay parang pansamantala lamang," he said.
(Classrooms are hot because students are cramped in there. It's common to have 45, 50, or 60 students in one room. But we know these require budget, so we're calling for temporary measures.)