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Castro backs proposal to revert summer vacation to April-May

House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro on Friday threw her support to the proposal to revert the summer vacation of students to April to May, saying it should be done "at the soonest time possible."

"Reverting the summer vacation of students to April-May at the soonest time possible would be best since students and teachers are now suffering the intolerable heat in jampacked classrooms," said Castro of ACT Teachers party-list.

In making the proposal, Castro noted the results of ACT Philippines' survey that showed 87% of public school teachers have observed that students are having difficulty comprehending their lessons due to the heat in classrooms.

The survey, which covered 11,706 public school teachers nationwide, also showed that 37% of those surveyed said the heat triggered the existing medical conditions of teachers and students.

The survey also showed 64% of teacher-respondents have existing medical conditions while 82% of students were found to have temperature-sensitive ailments.

"Sa sobrang taas ng heat index ngayong panahon ng climate change, hindi talaga safe para sa mga teachers at estudyante ang magklase sa mga malapugon nilang mga classroom," Castro said.

(The heat index is so high that it is not really safe for the teachers and students to hold classes inside classrooms.)

Castro said another 40% of the over 11,000 respondents also said more learners have been missing classes since the summer months started.

"The heavy reliance on electric fans for ventilation is insufficient, as only 1% of classrooms have air conditioners and 2% rely on natural ventilation," she said.

"Moreover, only 0.5% of respondents deem their classroom conditions as pleasant, while 67% noted that the heat is intolerable."

Castro also said the shift in the school calendar was a result of "poor planning" on the part of the government.

To address the problem, ACT Philippines proposed for the installation of air conditioners in classrooms, changing the class schedules to avoid the hottest hours of the day, and implementing blended learning by alternately holding face-to-face classes in the mornings and distance learning modalities at home.

The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier said it has no plan to move back to April and May the summer vacation of students despite the hot weather, but added that school heads have the discretion to suspend in-person classes and switch to Alternative Delivery Mode or Blended learning if the environment is not conducive to learning.

The school calendar used to run from June to March, but it shifted to August to May around 2014 which is more common in foreign countries.

The proposal to revert to the April-May summer vacation was first made by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who heads the Senate Committee on Basic Education.  —KBK, GMA Integrated News