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You Got No Class

It’s the first typhoon of the year. I didn’t notice that we had not had an official weather disturbance for more than three months now. As per tradition, we’re right along its path. What’s amazing is that the first typhoon came on the middle of the first summer month. What does this mean? Is the January to March quarter more summer than the April to June quarter? Is the first quarter more summer than the actual summer? Isn’t it weird? At least, Amang let you enjoy the waters before he could wet us with his whipping waters. Wait, didn’t we just have a long break from work and school from Wednesday afternoon until Monday? (Thanks to Araw ng Kagitingan) Now, another school break is looming along with the typhoon. This is such a treat!

But wait, aren’t the pre-school kids the only ones who get to go home in signal no. 1? Then, don’t the bigger kids have to wait for stronger rains before they could be sent home? Then, don’t the high school kids get a class suspension when the rains are already raging and they have to wade on flood waters to go home? That has been the case for many years then. It’s actually confusing when the elementary pupils or the high school students get to stay home. Then, the Grade 9 student would start to ask why do they have to wait for stronger winds to get the protection from getting trapped or stranded.

Very few people seem to be aware that schools should not be following that antiquated parameter anymore. Last September, DepEd issued an order that says, “in-person, online classes and work from Kindergarten to Grades 12 and Alternative Learning System (ALS) in all levels are “automatically cancelled” in schools situated in Local Government Units (LGUs) issued with Tropical Cyclone Wind Signals (TCWS) 1, 2, 3,4, or 5 by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)”.

Let me tell you why this is so much better. Let’s unpack it. The cancellation of classes applies to all levels from kindergarten to senior high school. It even includes ALS. Classes would be “automatically cancelled. That means that from kindergarten to Grade 12, students, teachers, parents and the pedicab driver who picks up and takes some pupils from school to home, don’t have to wait for the official declaration of a principal, superintendent, mayor or governor. Cancellation of classes would be automatic. The condition for this automatic cancellation is a tropical cyclone wind signal from 1 to 5 issued by PAGASA. (I didn’t know there was a signal no. 5.) Let’s unpack that further. Rather, let me simplify it. When a typhoon hits signal no. 1, classes in all levels would be automatically cancelled. When the weather guy on TV or radio says we’re on signal no. 1, you don’t have to ask your teacher, the principal, or your classmate, or wait for the mayor or the governor’s declaration. Go back to sleep because there are no classes. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t raining yet, the streets are not flooded yet or the sun is shining with a smile on the turquoise skies, as long as we’re on signal no. 1, there would be no classes. So, don’t listen to someone who thinks he/she has the authority to declare suspension of classes, if he/she tells you that classes will not yet be suspended because the weather is okay anyway. To unpack it some more, the typhoon signal has to be declared by PAGASA. Only PAGASA says that our place is in some tropical cyclone warning signal, not someone else, not any weather enthusiast who tracks storms as a hobby.

(Come on. Guys like this have been and still can be helpful. Thanks a lot for their help. But, let’s stick to the law. The one who signs the document is the police officer, not the private detective, the fire officer, not the volunteer firefighter, the doctor, not the medic, the lawyer, not the paralegal. Some people may think that some expert gives more reliable forecasts than PAGASA does, but PAGASA is still PAGASA, the official government agency for all things about weather.)

So, what’s the problem? Why a are announcements issued and withdrawn and deleted after minutes? Haven’t you ever heard of screenshots? So, what if the students are in coffee shops? Should the school or the local government trace their way to make sure that they go straight home? So, what if it’s not raining yet? Do we send the kids home when it’s already raining like crazy? Would it not be better if they go home before the rain starts? Would you rather that commuters run around chasing jeeps and tricycles, stomping on puddles of mud, and splashed and splattered by rushing rainwater? Just let them go home. Let them be safe.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” -Psalm 4:8


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