CLASS SUSPENSION. Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones says learners' safety is a top priority amid the Taal volcano unrest, in a prerecorded Talk to the People aired Wednesday (March 30, 2022). She said the DepEd has suspended classes in 19 schools in Batangas. (Screengrab)

MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) has already suspended classes in 19 schools in Agoncillo and Laurel, Batangas, affecting 7,139 learners, amid the Taal volcanic unrest.

In a prerecorded Talk to the People aired Wednesday, Secretary Leonor Briones recalled learnings from the effects of the previous volcanic activities in the province, stressing their primary goal was to ensure learners’ safety.

Mga 19 schools, nag-suspend na tayo ng klase, dahil primary ano natin ay protection of the children (Classes have been suspended in 19 schools because the children's safety is our primary concern),” she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself echoed Briones' statement about the students' safety.

Normalcy must be achieved there. ‘Pag di pa normal situation, it would be on the side of prudence na ‘wag na nating i-expose yung mga anak (not to expose our children to danger if the situation has not yet returned to normal),” he said.

According to the DepEd, classes have been suspended in 17 schools in Agoncillo since Monday, while the two schools have implemented class suspension in Laurel since March 26.

Briones, meanwhile, added that they have allowed several schools to be used as evacuation centers.

Dini-discourage natin na ginagamit ang ating mga schools na evacuation centers kasi mae-expose ‘yung mga bata, saka na-discuss na natin ‘yan sa Cabinet (We are discouraging the use of schools as evacuation centers because children might be exposed, we have discussed it in the Cabinet). But in the case of Taal and other major major disasters, pumayag tayo under your advice, mayroon din tayong mga schools ngayon na ginagawang evacuation centers (we allowed it as per your advice, we also have schools now being used as evacuation centers),” she told Duterte.

The secretary reassured the public that plans are already in place in areas surrounding the restive volcano, in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Health.

“‘Yung mga lessons na nakuha natin doon, ina-apply natin ngayon… binabantayan din natin ‘yung permanent danger zones. Meron talagang mga areas na may face-to-face man o wala, talagang ‘di na ‘yan pwede na magkaroon tayo ng klase doon at activities ng mga bata (The lessons that we’ve learned, we are applying it now. We are also monitoring permanent danger zones. There are areas wherein whether there’s face-to-face classes or none, it can no longer be utilized for classes and activities of learners),” she said. (PNA)