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Due to the risk of heat, hundreds of Philippine schools suspend classes

MANILA: Due to dangerously high temperatures on Tuesday, hundreds of schools in the Philippines—including many in the nation’s capital, Manila—stopped holding in-person classes, according to education officials. The nation’s heat index calculates the perceived temperature while accounting for humidity.

According to the state weather forecaster, the index was predicted to hit the “danger” level of 42 degrees Celsius in Manila on Tuesday and 43 degrees Celsius on Wednesday. Similar readings were predicted for a dozen other parts of the nation.

Tuesday’s real high temperature in the city was 35.7C, which is colder than the record of 38.6C set on May 17, 1915. To avoid the hottest part of the day, local officials on the main island of Luzon, the central islands, and the southern island of Mindanao shortened school hours or suspended in-person classes, according to education ministry officials.

The precise number of schools impacted could not be provided by the Department of Education. For large portions of the tropical nation, March, April, and May are normally the driest months of the year. The El Nino weather phenomenon has made conditions worse this year.

Local officials gave schools in other areas the option to switch to remote learning, but they ordered the closure of primary and secondary schools in Quezon, the most populated area of the capital. Additionally, some Manila schools shortened the school day.

The weather forecaster stated in an advisory that heat stroke is “probable with continued exposure” and that cramps and exhaustion can result from a heat index of 42 to 51 degrees Celsius. The forecaster states that between 33 and 41 degrees Celsius, heat exhaustion and cramps are also possible.

Rea Halique, a spokeswoman for the Zamboanga regional education ministry, told AFP that the orders had an impact on hundreds of schools in the Mindanao provinces of Cotabato, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, as well as the cities of Cotabato, General Santos, and Koronadal.

Five schools in the Zamboanga region of Mindanao also closed for the day, according to the ministry, though local authorities there did not advise other schools to stop holding in-person classes.

Dahlia Paragas, an official from the Zamboanga regional education ministry, told AFP that “one (kindergarten) student and two in the elementary school suffered nosebleeds at the Pagadian City Pilot School.” “They were all told to stay out of the sun and are back at home in stable condition.” According to the state forecaster, Cotabato city had the highest heat index in Mindanao, with temperatures rising to 42 degrees Celsius on Monday and Tuesday.- AFP

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