971 classrooms in Ilocos damaged by typhoons, ‘habagat’

By Hilda Austria

August 14, 2023, 5:06 pm

<p><strong>OPLAN BALIK ESKWELA</strong>. Officials of the Department of Education in Ilocos Region give updates on their preparations for the opening of classes on Aug. 29 at a press conference in San Fernando, La Union on Monday (Aug. 14, 2023). The DepEd said a total of 971 classrooms in the region were damaged due to recent calamities. <em>(Screenshot from DepEd Ilocos Facebook)</em></p>

OPLAN BALIK ESKWELA. Officials of the Department of Education in Ilocos Region give updates on their preparations for the opening of classes on Aug. 29 at a press conference in San Fernando, La Union on Monday (Aug. 14, 2023). The DepEd said a total of 971 classrooms in the region were damaged due to recent calamities. (Screenshot from DepEd Ilocos Facebook)

MALASIQUI, Pangasinan – Almost 1,000 classrooms in the Ilocos Region were damaged due to typhoons Falcon and Egay and the southwest monsoon (habagat), the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Monday.

Of the 971 damaged classrooms, 514 incurred minor damage, 354 major damage and 103 total damage, according to Darius Nieto, project development officer of DepEd Ilocos, during a press conference in San Fernando, La Union.

He added 72 toilets and 77 handwashing facilities were also damaged.

“All the school divisions were affected. This still needs vetting from the central office and engineers for them to see the actual needs. The engineering office has already coordinated with the school divisions for those that need temporary learning spaces,” he said.

Nieto said the restoration or renovation of the classrooms has to undergo a procurement process. It would also take 60 to 120 days to set up temporary learning spaces.

“The funding was already in the regional office or what we call standby funds for disaster risk reduction and management sources,” he said.

Meanwhile, DepEd Ilocos regional director Tolentino Aquino asked for the support of the stakeholders for this year’s “Brigada Eskwela” volunteer maintenance activities and “Oplan Balik Eskwela.”

He encouraged stakeholders, including parents, students, national government agencies, and non-government entities, to practice the “bayanihan” (cooperation) spirit in helping prepare the classrooms for the opening of classes on Aug. 29.

At least 144,705 enrollees have already enrolled as of Aug. 14 based on the learner’s information system quick count or 11.6 percent of last school year’s total enrollees of around 1.2 million learners.

Aquino said the agency’s preparations for the opening of classes include for possible extreme heat due to the El Niño phenomenon.

“Nakaranas na ng extreme heat noong April and May kung saan naglabas ng advisory and DepEd na sinasabi sa mga ganitong pagkakataon ay maaring magshift ng modality from in-person classes to distance modality kaya nagagamit pa din learning modules at ang mga guro ay nagkaraoon na din ng kasanayan ukol dito (We experienced extreme heat in April and May wherein the DepEd issued an advisory stating that in this case, we may shift modality from in person classes to distance modality so we were still able to use learning modules and the teachers were also trained on this),” he said.

Also part of the “Balik Eskwela” (Back to School) kickoff on Aug. 14 is the opening of hotlines to assist and answer queries regarding enrollment.

Aquino said they can be reached by phone (0968-5161347), email ([email protected]) or via Facebook (www.facebook.com/depedregion1).

The Ilocos Police Regional Office said they have already coordinated with the schools, local government units and non-government organizations for traffic management.

The police’s public focus operations are around school premises to ensure the safety of learners. (PNA)

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