Smog-ridden Mexico City suspends school classes due to pollution

Robie de Guzman   •   May 17, 2019   •   1386

Courtesy : Reuters

Mexico’s government ordered schools in and around Mexico City to be closed on Thursday (May 16) in an extraordinary step taken due to elevated levels of pollution in the smog-wreathed capital.

The education ministry said in a statement on Wednesday (May 15) that the measure applies to public and private schools in the Mexico City metropolitan area, which is home to well over 20 million people. It recommended that children avoid exercise, remain indoors and avoid using contact lenses.

Two of the city’s principal seats of higher learning, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Polytechnic Institute, also said they would suspend classes in the metropolitan area on Thursday due to the pollution.

On Tuesday (May 14) the city’s authorities declared an environmental emergency. They have come under pressure to act due to reduced visibility caused by smoke and ash in the air during an extended dry spell.

“The increase in the temperature will worsen air pollution in cities because the chemical that pollution carries is dependent on the temperature. A prediction that is materialising is that there are an increasing numbers of forest fires because there is more drought, higher temperatures,” said the Environmental Consultant for the Mexico City Government.

“We have already seen this in the United States in California. We’ve had a very clear example of this in recent years,” it added.

Smoke from nearby wildfires has pushed pollution to levels deemed potentially harmful to human health.

“There are winds over Mexico City that are bringing with them particles that are setting off fires in different areas of the metropolitan area of the Mexico City valley area. Also, we’ve been informed that hopefully, this changes by the end of the week,” said Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.

“I have a one-and-a-half year old baby and I am looking to protect myself from getting sick, so as not to have the medical expenses and from feeling bad. It (mouth mask) is more preventative and for my baby,” said Pamela Barajas, a local resident.

“As citizens there are issues that we don’t know about, for example, with the particles (in the air) that are affecting breathing. We are affected because we suddenly feel that our eyes and nasal passages are irritated so in this respect it is alarming. And for children, there was a child that got a haemorrhage (from the pollution). So, I want to think that this (school closure) is because of the pollution and heatwave, combined with the heatwave it (pollution) is a more serious problem,” said Natividad Malpica, a local resident.

The Federal Environment Department said Wednesday that 3,800 firefighters are combating an average of about 100 fires a day in brush, scrub, agricultural and forest land throughout the country. Fire risk is highest in the spring for much of Mexico because the summer rainy season has not yet started. (REUTERS)

DepEd says class suspensions due to COVID-19 surge up to regionals, school divisions

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday said it is allowing its regional and school division offices to suspend classes and other teaching-related activities amid the steep increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.

In a memorandum, the DepEd said its regional offices (RO) and school division offices (SDO) may exercise discretion in suspending classes and other activities based on their assessment of the health status of teachers and learners, and the IATF risk classification.

“Given the varying health situations in different areas, the ROs/SDOs are given the option, based on their reliable assessment of the health status of their teachers and learners and the IATF risk classification, to declare the suspension of classes within the month of January 2022,” the agency said.

“The ROs/SDOs shall decide on the specific dates and number of days for the suspension of classes as long as the period of class suspension does not exceed 2 weeks in order to avoid a prolonged disruption in the current school calendar,” it added.

The DepEd said that during the suspension of classes, “all synchronous and asynchronous classes will be put on hold while submission of academic requirements and conduct of other teaching-related activities must be moved to a later date.”

“For late submission of requirements, accommodations must be afforded for those with valid reasons,” it added.

Regional offices and school division offices should also make necessary adjustments in the school calendar to ensure that the number of schools days in the current school year remains in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 11480, which amends Section 3 of RA 7797 or An Act to lengthen the school calendar from 200 days to not more than 220 class days.

Furthermore, the department reminded schools to adhere to its policy on academic ease “to ensure flexibility in the teaching-learning process amid the pandemic by recalibrating the strategy of assigning teaching responsibilities and learning activities in order to safeguard the well-being of both teachers and learners.”

Meanwhile, private schools, in consultation with their respective parents’ associations, may exercise their own discretion relative to the suspension of classes and K to 12 learning activities when COVID-19 risks in their respective areas are high, the DepEd said.

Smog in Metro Manila due to ‘human activities’ pollution, not Taal Volcano — Phivolcs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Tuesday (June 29) clarified that the smog experienced in Metro Manila is the effect of pollution from human activities and not from Taal Volcano.

Phivolcs observed high levels of volcanic sulfur dioxide or SO2 gas emissions and steam-rich plumes in the past days. SO2  emission averaged 14,326 tonnes per day as of June 28.

Several residents in Metro Manila observed haze in their area which caused concern especially with the volcanic gas emission in Taal Volcano.

“The haze which is being experienced by some residents of Metro Manila is smog caused by pollution and human activity. The haze is not from Taal Volcano,” the agency said.

Meanwhile, residents near Taal Volcano were advised to take precautions including staying indoors and wearing masks to prevent exposure to SO2.

According to Phivolcs, the Taal region continues to undergo very slow extension since 2020. These parameters indicate overall that magmatic unrest continues to occur at shallow depths beneath the edifice. Alert Level 2 (Increased Unrest) is currently maintained over Taal Volcano. AAC

Marikina City suspends classes for one month

Marje Pelayo   •   November 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The city government of Marikina City announced the one-month suspension of classes in all levels, in both private and public schools due to the damage caused by Typhoon Ulysses.

The extended class suspension is from November 16 to December 16.

Mayor Marcy Teodoro on Monday (November 16) said extending the suspension of classes is necessary as students’ learning materials and equipment have been damaged.

“Dahil sa laki ng pinsala na dulot ng bagyong Ulysses, maraming lugar pa ang may makapal na putik, walang kuryente at tubig, unstable ang internet connectivity at ang mga modules at gadgets na ginagamit sa pag-aaral ay nabasa at nasira dahil sa baha,” Mayor Teodoro said.

[The massive devastation caused by Typhoon Ulysses left many areas in the city covered with mud with no electricity and water; unstable internet connectivity and damaged learning materials.]

“Ito ay para mabigyan rin ng pagkakataon na maiayos ng bawat pamilya ang kanilang mga kabahayan sa pag-aaral ng mga bata,” he added.

[This is to give every family time to repair their houses to make it conducive again for students’ learning.]

Mayor Marcy said the period of class suspension will allow school officials to reprint and redistribute learning modules to students. 

The Department of Education had previously said it will support the decision of local government units when it comes to the conduct of classes in their respective areas.

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