Christmas break may come later for schools in quake-affected areas

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 4 Dec) – The Christmas break for students in public schools in quake-affected areas in North Cotabato might be postponed for another week, an education official said.

A damaged school building n M’lang, North Cotabato. MindaNews file photo by JULES L. BENITEZ

Omar Obas, Cotabato schools division superintendent, said they are looking at the possibility to extend classes for students and teachers until December 20.

The break, based on the calendar of school year 2019 to 2020, should start on December 13, and classes to resume January 6 next year.

This postponement, Obas said, will help students coming from quake-affected towns cope with the lessons after their classes were suspended for almost a month since October 16.

This, however, has yet to be approved by higher authorities in DepEd, he pointed out.

The strong earthquake on October 16 with magnitude 6.3 hit North Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao, with Tulunan town as epicenter. After that, three more strong quakes with magnitude that ranged from 6.1 to 6.6 happened in the vicinity from October 29 until 31.

The earthquakes resulted to landslides in several hinterlands areas, which caused at least 30 deaths, hundreds of thousands of people displaced, and destruction of properties, school buildings in particular.

“Classes have to be suspended during those times because that was the right thing to do. But these students have to cope with the lessons so they won’t be behind in their classes,” said Obas.

Obas said one of the things they also considered why they were bent on postponing the break was that the construction of temporary learning shelters in quake-hit schools are still ongoing and have not been completed.

To date, Obas said 293 temporary classrooms made from bamboo sheets, galvanized iron sheets, and tarpaulins have been built in Makilala town.

In Tulunan, at least 40 temporary learning shelters would be constructed in Daig Elementary School and Daig High School.

Obas said funds for the project came from “own pockets” of the officials and members of the Philippine Association of Schools Division Superintendents from all over the country.

“This is just the first phase of our construction, more have yet to be built,” he explained.

“These shelters could last two to three years, just enough for the completion of the construction of permanent and concrete school buildings, which are now being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways,” Obas said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/ MindaNews)