Home News Philippines closes schools as heat soars to ‘dangerous’ levels

Philippines closes schools as heat soars to ‘dangerous’ levels

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The Philippines closed all public schools on Monday and Tuesday due to dangerously high temperatures, moving classes online in a country where schools are typically closed due to tropical storms.

Over the past week, average temperatures have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) in many parts of the country. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, extreme heat is expected to cover almost the entire country this week, with the heat index in some areas rising to at least 42 degrees Celsius, a “hazardous” level. The title is the second-highest on the agency’s popularity index. It advises people to avoid exposure to the sun or risk heatstroke, heat exhaustion and cramps.

In Metro Manila, where the heat index is expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius early this week, residents of crowded slums are cooling off by erecting colorful inflatable pools along busy roads. Others in the metropolis have been swimming in Manila Bay, defying rules against swimming in the polluted waters.

The extreme weather coincides with a nationwide strike for jeepneys, the colorful open-air vehicles that are the main mode of public transportation in the Philippines, the Education Department said in its advisory on school closures on Sunday.Jeep drivers protest Government plans to phase out their rides — whose origins can be traced to U.S. military jeeps — and replace them with modern, more fuel-efficient minibuses.

The intense heat had already forced some schools to cancel classes before the government called for closures. Jesus the Good Shepherd School in Imus, a city south of Manila, sent students home last week as temperatures soared, even though the private school is one of the few in the country with air conditioning in every classroom.

“It’s hard for students and teachers to concentrate because the air conditioning is also difficult,” said Ana Marie Macarimbang, a fifth-grade teacher at the school who has taught for nearly two decades. “Yes, we are in a tropical country, but the heat is now more intense than I remember.”

Historically, weather-related school closures in the Philippines have been more common during typhoon season. peaks between July and October. Teachers’ groups believe the current closures could have been avoided if authorities had not changed the school calendar in the wake of the pandemic. The school year now runs roughly from August to May instead of June to March.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he has no objection to reshuffling school schedules and blamed extreme heat on climate change. Marcos said earlier this month that the government “really didn’t expect it to turn out this way.”

Extreme temperatures have also disrupted daily life in other parts of Asia, including Cambodia and Vietnam.Earlier this month, a heat wave forced schools in bangladesh and india closure.

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