Less than a week after DepEd Order No. 37 s. of 2022, or the “Guidelines on the Cancellation or Suspension of Classes and Work in Schools in the Event of Natural Disasters, Power Outages/Interruptions, and Other Calamities,” became effective, super typhoon Karding came along to test how it would be implemented.
Under the order, in-person, online classes and work from Kindergarten to Grades 12 and Alternative Learning System (ALS) in all levels are “automatically cancelled” in public and private 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).
In-person, online classes and work at all levels are also automatically cancelled in schools situated in LGUs issued with Orange and Red Rainfall Warnings or Flood Warnings by the weather agency.
In case of earthquakes, in-person, online classes and work from K to 12 and Alternative Learning System (ALS) are also “automatically cancelled” in schools situated in LGUs where the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) declare an earthquake with Phivolcs Earthquake Intensity Scale (PEIS) 5 or above.
DepEd also said that classes may also be suspended at the discretion of school officials in areas where there are power outages/power interruptions/brownouts.
Local chief executives can also decide on the cancellation or suspension of classes based on the respective situation on the ground.
The education department said that it places a premium on the safety of school children in the event of natural disasters.
While there is generally fair weather most of the time when Catanduanes is under PCWS #1, which provides a lead time of 36 hours, STY Karding and recent strong typhoons have demonstrated rapid intensification within 24 hours while approaching landfall.
What the DepEd order fails to mention is that classes are to resume once PAGASA lifts all storm signals, something which the department assumes all pupils and students already know.
On the other hand, that presidential proclamation suspending all classes and government work last Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, due to STY Karding was an overreaction by the NDRRMC.
Like DepEd, Malacanang should have left the decision to suspend work and classes to PAGASA depending on the effects of the typhoon on the seven regions.
STY Karding’s damaging winds and rain probably extended to about 100 kilometers from the eye.
When it neared its first landfall on Polillo island in Quezon, Virac was less than 200 kilometers from the center and yet had only light to moderate rains.
There was no need to suspend government work and classes in all levels in Catanduanes and other areas not in the direct path of the typhoon.
All Malacanang and its present occupant accomplished, as far as the Bicol region, Regions I and II, Mimaropa and Calabarzon are concerned, was put to waste one precious day.