By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
While classes in some affected schools have already resumed, the Department of Education (DepEd) said it continues to track learners and its personnel who were displaced by the Taal Volcano eruption of Jan. 12.
Based on its latest Education Cluster Report, DepEd said there are seven affected divisions in Region IV-A. There are also 566, 498 learners affected in 1,025 schools, while 19,831 of DepEd’s personnel are still affected.
While the Taal alert status has been reduced to Level 3, classes in some divisions of Region IV-A remain suspended, directly affecting 548, 672 learners in 1,010 schools. Classes at all levels in these divisions have been suspended since Jan. 13.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said earlier the decreased alert status of Taal is seen by DepEd as a “breathing space” and an opportunity to catch up with what needs to be done, particularly in tracing displaced learners and personnel.
DepEd data showed that to date, 534 of its personnel have been tracked to 272 evacuation centers (ECs) located in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna. DepEd said it has 1, 055 personnel within Taal’s 14-kilometer danger zone.
DepEd’s latest data also showed that there are 288 schools in seven divisions under Region IV-A that are still being used as ECs, include Batangas, Batangas City, Calamba City, Cavite, Gen. Trias City, Lipa City, and Tanauan City.
DepEd added that 2, 698 classrooms in 288 schools are being used as temporary shelters for 18, 761 families or 67,614 individuals, 14, 046 of which are learners.
Continued tracking, interventions
Briones also directed the continued tracking of learners, personnel, as well as donations related to Taal’s eruption. DepEd also issued other immediate interventions to help ensure that education for affected learners will continue.
Briones ordered the tracking of cash and in-kind donations through the Adopt-a-School Program (ASP), and the provision of Psychological First Aid (PFA) to displaced learners and personnel.
Briones said DepEd personnel trained in PFA such as DRRM coordinators, guidance counselors, and school health division nurses from “unaffected regions and schools divisions shall be mobilized to provide PFA to the displaced DepEd learners and personnel.”
The provision of PFA to displaced DepEd learners began last Jan. 24.
DepEd also ordered the implementation of Alternative Delivery Modes (ADMs) for displaced learners in various ECs such as schools or home-based, among others.
The Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS) was also directed to “immediately upload all available” Open Educational Resources (OERs) to be used by teachers in affected areas, particularly in schools used as ECs or in other venues that serve as temporary shelters.
DepEd also ordered the immediate training of teachers to help ensure the “alignment of ADM or OER materials to the K to 12 curriculum,” as well as the provision of buffer stocks of books.