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Escaping the Heat

If you happen to see kids playing outside on a school day, don’t scold them for cutting classes. If you happen to take a jeepney ride at around 8 in the morning, and a student in school uniform is in the same ride, he may not be running late for class. This week and on the following weeks, public schools will be implementing changes in class schedules and the setup on how lessons are delivered. Somewhat, it’s like distance learning in the community quarantine all over again. Well, it’s something like it, but not entirely. Some schools will be implementing modular modality. (Remember a couple of years back when kids don’t go to class but answer modules at home? Some schools will go back to that.) Some students will go to school every other day. On the rest of the school week, I think they’ll be answering modules. (Well, they could use the time to go malling or swimming if they choose to do so.) Some schools will have classes from 6 am to 12 noon, with the rest of the afternoon off for the pupils.

Although. Reports say that Covid-19 cases are on the rise, it’s not really due to the virus. The changes in setup are in consideration for the children’s well-being in the extreme weather conditions, specifically, the extreme high temperature. In other words, it’s too hot!

Remember the more than a hundred high school students who fainted in their classes due to the hellish heat in Occidental Mindoro recently? Well, this is DepEd’s response so that something like that doesn’t happen again in any school in Bicol. Actually, I heard that there have been similar cases of passing out in our local high schools. It just does not involve a number that would make it to the news.

I suppose this is good and commendable. We rarely see proactive response from the government. We don’t see elevated housing projects in response to flooding. We don’t see alternative energy sources in response to the power interruptions. We don’t see control to number of vehicles in response to road traffic. It’s good that we’re taking lessons from unfavorable incidents in other provinces, and using them to prevent potential problems. I guess, with this, school children would be kept from braving the extreme high temperatures inside the classroom.

These changes come after PAGASA reports of the coming of El Niño next month and will extend through the rest of the year until the first months of next year. What does that mean? Will we have a hot and humid holiday season? Does that mean we won’t sing, “Malamig na naman ang simoy ng hangin…”? First we get struck by summer storms, then we will get harsh humid holidays?

These changes also come towards the end of the first face-to-face school year after two years of distance learning. Yes, this is the school year when all schools go back to actual classes. Then, before the DepEd school year ends, that in-person instruction gets an intermission. I guess, those modules are still a part of school life. This means that we haven’t really gone back to normal after all. Yes, in whatever way you may hope and believe that we’re going back to normal, I don’t think so. It seems that these times are not normal times anymore.

These changes also come along reports of rising number of cases of Covid-19. Yes, the virus is still around. A colleague who I share a room with has not been able to report to work because she has been in close contact with someone who tested positive with the virus. Just when we thought no one would test positive anymore, we hear those words again. Just when I already stopped wearing face masks, I had to wear one everyday again. This wave could be more dangerous because people have become complacent now, tired of all the restrictions in the past couple of years.

Some people including government officials may question the quality of instruction in classes held in alternate days. Some may ask why some schools would choose to go completely modular when children could still converge in less hot times of the day, and printing would be expensive. (Come on, that’s their choice.) There is also that question of whether the pupils themselves actually answer the modules. In some schools, elementary age school children have been scheduled to come to class from 6 in the morning and go home at 12 noon, with no classes in the afternoon. Do they really escape the heat if they go out on the road in the heat of the midday? Even if they do escape the heat which is quite doubtful, what about the healthy sleep of small children who would have to wake up earlier than 6?

Isaiah 4:6: “There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”


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