MANILA — More than 12 million students from 29,671 schools have been affected by Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), the Department of Education (DepEd) said Monday.
The DepEd defined affected schools as those that were used as evacuation centers or hit by secondary hazards such as flooding, landslide or storm surge.
Based on the agency's latest situation report, all the school divisions in the regions of Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Caraga were directly affected by the storm, which made its first landfall on Thursday and exited the Philippines on Saturday.
The DepEd said it conducted an emergency meeting with the regional offices and divisions that were exposed to the typhoon, discussing "updates, status reports and ways [to move] forward."
According to the agency's report, 674 schools are currently being used as evacuation centers.
One school in the Caraga region had been affected by the flooding, it noted.
Meanwhile, 23,298 schools suspended classes last week due to the typhoon but 6,632 have so far resumed instruction.
The DepEd said it would continue to monitor the other effects of the typhoon and "provide fund support for response interventions to affected areas, if necessary."
Resilient heritage building
During her inspection of schools in Negros Oriental over the weekend, Education Secretary Leonor Briones noted the resiliency of a Gabaldon school building in Dauin Central School against the typhoon.
The building was constructed in 1914 and rebuilt in 1947 after being burned down during World War II.
"As we visited schools affected by the typhoon, I was really impressed on how resilient Gabaldon School Buildings are. This goes to show that these facilities can endure any type of calamities," Briones said.
Gabaldon structures are heritage school buildings preserved by the government for their "architectural, historical, and social significance."
The national police said about 208 people had been killed during the onslaught of Odette, the strongest storm to enter the Philippines this year. The figure was higher than the 58 deaths recorded by the national disaster agency, which said it was still validating reports from affected regions.
Authorities are working to accelerate relief operations but remain hampered by damage caused to communication and power lines, which have yet to be restored in many devastated areas.
— With a report from Reuters