The decision to hold an academic break should be left to the discretion of local government units (LGUs) or academic institutions that were affected by the recent successive typhoons that hit the country, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Thursday.

gatchalian - Decision on proposed academic break up to LGUs –Gatchalian
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said it is imperative that LGUs and educational institutions are given the leeway to decide when they can resume classes.

“The aftermath of typhoons that recently struck our country led some academic institutions and LGUs to declare academic breaks, which would allow students, teachers, and employees to recover,” Gatchalian said.

“While there were calls for a Luzon-wide and nationwide academic break, the decision to suspend classes to aid recovery efforts should be left to LGUs or the academic institutions based on their assessment of the calamities’ impact on their constituencies, including their capacity to resume classes,” he said.

The lawmaker noted some of the provinces hard -hit by the recent typhoon Ulysses have opted to suspend classes for a month to give the families, students and teachers time to recover from the deluge.

For instance, he said Marikina City has a month-long suspension of classes in all levels, while class suspensions in the province of Cagayan would last until November 30.

Prior to the opening of classes last October, Gatchalian expressed his opposition to calls for an academic freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senator warned that an academic freeze would have long-term effects such as increased learning losses, inequalities, and exposure to violence, child labor, and teenage pregnancy among others.

All of these, he said, were observed in crisis areas such as the Ebola outbreak in Africa, and in some of the provinces in the Visayas region that were hit by Typhoon Yolanda.

“That is why, despite all the colossal challenges, we strive to make education continue. I do not see how an academic freeze will help our aspiration to continue education and mitigate risks associated with prolonged school closures,” he said.

Department of Education (DepEd) officials earlier dismissed calls for an “academic freeze” following the flooding that devastated the country after the successive typhoons, saying what they will implement instead is an “academic ease.”

Most of the damaged schools are from the Bicol Region, Central Luzon and in Calabarzon.

There were also nine schools in Metro Manila that were damaged, as well as in Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Region, in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and in Mimaropa.

Some of the public schools and classrooms are being used as temporary shelters of the families that were displaced. 

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