Youth group asks for weeklong class suspension due to typhoons

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 12 2020 06:54 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2020 07:19 PM

Youth group asks for weeklong class suspension due to typhoons 1
Teachers rush to bring school equipments inside as rain started to fall at the Bote Integrated School in Bato, Catanduanes on November 9, 2020. Days after Super Typhoon Rolly hit, teachers and school staff start to clean up the severely damaged school while preparing for Tropical Depression Ulysses which is expected to make landfall on Wednesday. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) – A youth group on Thursday urged government to suspend classes in the country for a week, citing difficulties in distance education triggered by a series of typhoons that struck the country in the past weeks.

The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) also asked government to suspend the submission of academic requirement in all levels nationwide until November 19.

“In light of the aftermath of five major typhoons in less than two weeks and the slow response of concerned government agencies, millions of Filipino students cannot continue classes under these conditions,” the group said in a statement.

Spark said Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces as well as southern Luzon continue to deal with flooding, power outages and intermittent internet signal, thus “making distance learning of any kind practically impossible.”

Also on Thursday, the Department of Education (DepEd) authorized its regional directors to suspend distance-learning activities in school divisions severely affected by recent typhoons, but only from November 13 to 14.

The suspension of distance learning activities for 2 days aims to give learners, teachers and school personnel time for their “needed immediate recovery” from the typhoons, according to a memorandum by Secretary Leonor Briones.

In a text message to ABS-CBN News, Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said the DepEd would also respect the decision of local government officials, who are the ones that declare class suspensions.

Reacting to Spark’s appeal, Commission on Higher Education Chairman Prospero de Vera said it was up to higher education institutions (HEIs) to suspend classes.

“That’s (class suspension) a decision that individual HEIs will have to make. You cannot cancel classes in the whole country if the effects of the typhoon [are] only in some parts of the country,” De Vera said.

Typhoon Ulysses brought ferocious wind and dumped torrential rains across Luzon starting Wednesday night, inundating parts of the island and forcing thousands to flee from their homes.

The typhoon left the Luzon landmass and emerged over the West Philippine Sea on Thursday morning, and is forecast to leave the Philippine area of responsibility by Friday. 

Days before Ulysses ravaged the country, Rolly, the world’s strongest storm this year, also struck Luzon, leaving at least 25 people dead.

This year, the country’s education system shifted to distance learning after government indefinitely banned in-person classes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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