For Albay teachers, Mayon unrest won’t stop learning
LEGAZPI CITY — For weeks or even months, teachers in Camalig town will have to make do with alternative learning spaces and visit their students living in separate evacuation centers so they can continue with classes and other school activities as Albay province prepares for a possible hazardous eruption of Mayon Volcano.
Ginalyn Maravillas, a grade 2 teacher at Tumpa Elementary School in Barangay Tumpa, said when they met their students now staying at Comun Elementary School in Barangay Comun on Wednesday, they had to request some families staying there to vacate a room to accommodate them because the covered court was used for the distribution of relief items.
On Wednesday afternoon at Taladong Elementary School in Barangay Taladong, teachers had one-on-one reading sessions with students under the shade of trees.
“It’s very challenging because when we arrive at 7 a.m., most of the students are still asleep, not yet having breakfast and some did not bring their school supplies,” Maravillas said.
On Thursday, they returned to the same schools and would continue in the next few days in the villages of Sua and Tumpa, this time with students whose families had yet to evacuate.
Raysante Mujar, principal of Tumpa Elementary School, said they split their teachers in the different schools and villages to ensure the continuity of learning and assess the literacy and numeracy skills of students as part of intervention programs of the Department of Education (DepEd) on the learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our goal is to ensure the continuity of learning, despite the fact that our students were evacuated to different evacuation centers and live in other villages,” Mujar said in a separate phone interview.
Classes in Tumpa and other schools inside the 6- to 7-kilometer radius danger zone in the villages of Quirangay, Anoling and Cabagñan were suspended on June 8 after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert level to 3 over the volcano.
On Thursday, April Ivy Nocos, a Grade 2 teacher, and her nine colleagues at Quirangay Elementary School held in-person classes with 85 children under a mango tree.
Alvin Cuz, the disaster risk reduction and management coordinator of DepEd Albay division, said more than 15,000 students were affected, including those studying in 14 schools inside the danger zone and those displaced after 15 schools were occupied by evacuees.
As of Thursday, the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office said 5,526 families (19,754 people) were evacuated from the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Malilipot and Sto. Domingo and the cities of Ligao and Tabaco.
In Manila, President Marcos directed government agencies to conduct a thorough evaluation of the evacuees’ conditions.
“Whatever is needed, we will have to provide. There are many agencies that are helping. All agencies are already engaged in the rehabilitation effort, in the support for the evacuees,” the President said in an interview after attending a trade forum in Taguig City on Thursday.
Mr. Marcos stressed the necessity of addressing other critical aspects in this emergency situation, including the education and mental health of children in Mayon’s danger zones.
“If it takes cash, then that’s good. Well and good. But sometimes, it’s not cash. We spoke a long time about what to do with the children [who] would not go to school, who are not doing anything. These are other issues that are basically not quantifiable but they are important,” he said.
—WITH REPORTS FROM JEROME ANING AND FRANCES MANGOSING