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Press Release - Gatchalian urges principals: Implement blended learning amid pertussis, extreme weather fears

Following the resumption of classes after the Lenten break, Senator Win Gatchalian urged principals to implement blended learning amid parents' concerns about the threats of pertussis or whooping cough and hot weather.

"Nais nating paalalahanan ang mga punong-guro na kung may banta sa kaligtasan ng ating mga mag-aaral, maaaring magpatupad ang mga paaralan ng blended learning lalo na't pinangangambahan natin ang banta ng pertussis at mas mainit na panahon. Maipagpapatuloy na natin ang edukasyon ng mga bata, mabibigyan pa natin ng prayoridad ang kanilang kalusugan at kaligtasan," said Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.

At least six local governments in Western Visayas already suspended classes on April 1 due to the rise in temperature. Iloilo City alone suspended classes for April 1 and 2 from pre-school to senior high school. To ensure that learning competencies and objectives are still met, Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 037 s. 2022 provides that modular distance learning, performance tasks, projects, or make-up classes shall be implemented in the event of canceled or suspended classes.

After consultations with stakeholders, including teachers and learners, the DepEd moved the end of School Year 2023-2024 from June 14 to May 31. Gatchalian, who called for the gradual return to the old school calendar, supported the move. The senator recalled a finding of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services (PAGASA), which pointed out that while the current school calendar coincides with fewer days of extreme rainfall and less cancelation of classes due to tropical cyclones, there are also more school days with extremely hot temperature.

Meanwhile, pertussis outbreaks were previously declared in Quezon City and Iloilo City. The Province of Cavite is also under a state of calamity because of a pertussis outbreak. The Department of Health (DOH) reported last March 27 that 40 deaths due to pertussis have been recorded from January 1 to March 16.

Gatchalian also called on principals to implement health and safety measures in schools, including the promotion of good respiratory hygiene and proper and regular