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HomeLocal NewsNegros mayors follow Albee's lead in suspending classes amid heat wave but...

Negros mayors follow Albee’s lead in suspending classes amid heat wave but Javi does not

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Mayors here have been following the lead of sitting Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez in suspending physical classes as the long, dry spell is pushing the heat to beyond normal levels.

But Albee’s eldest child, Javier Miguel or Mayor Javi in the mill city of Victorias is not about to follow his father’s lead.

As the Benitez here suspends classes for the second time in only 20 days, citing the health and safety of stidents and children as his main consideration, the younger Benitez is not about to do the same.

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This city’s Benitez first suspended classes on 11 March 2024 when State weather bureau PAGASA released two-day forecasts showing heat indexes hitting 40 degrees Centigrade, way above 28.3 degrees, the warmest mean temperaturea in the country during summer months.

Other mayors like those in the cities of San Carlos and Kabankalan and other towns in the province followed suit, a pattern repeated the other day when Mayor Albee again suspended face to face classes in public schools at selected levels – pre school, elementary, and senior and junior high – but left the decision to private school administrators.

His spokesman, lawyer Caesar Distrito, told DNX his decision to suspend for 1and 2 March was based on the primary consideration of health and safety as most public school rooms have no airconditioning compared to private ones.

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Distrito also pointed out that Benitez had also been considering the health of teachers who have existing health condition that could be worsened by steaming classrooms.

Benitez, however, urged administrators to look for alternative means of instruction like online learning.

He extended the suspension to today and tomorrow, 3 to 4 March 2024, as PAGASA released a two-day forecast at the extreme caution level of 40 degrees on those days.

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The younger Benitez, on the other hand, posted his views about the weather phenomenon, as he pointed out on his Facebook account:

“El Niño is a climatic event that can last for several months or even years, characterized by fluctuating, often higher, temperatures. It’s important to acknowledge that the rising temperatures are not a simple trend of continuous increase but come with varying highs and lows.”

He added: “Suspending classes merely offers a temporary fix to a complex issue. If we were to follow this path, consider the implications of temperatures spiking again tomorrow or the following week. Would this mean a halt to all school attendance?”

With formal classses having returned only last year post the COVID pandemic, Mayor Javi said” ultimately, the necessity of formal education for our children remains paramount” as he said “The most effective approach is to adapt our learning environments to these challenges, making them more suitable for education despite the heat.”

However, the younger Benitez said he has granted school heads the discretion to make decisions in alignment with the Department of Education’s directives” as he disclosed that the Victorias government is “in the process of evaluating the availability of fans in classrooms across all schools in Victorias City. Moreover, we are relaxing the uniform policy during extreme heat conditions and considering the addition of more water fountains to ensure hydration.”

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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