By Jan Arcilla/Manila Times
The strong earthquake that hit several regions in Mindanao affected some 2mn students in 4,000 schools, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).
Classes in these schools have been suspended indefinitely as authorities inspect buildings to assess the damage.
DepEd spokesman Annalyn Sevilla said local officials in areas that were affected by the strong earthquakes had the discretion to suspend classes.
Classes were suspended in Davao (Region 11), Soccsksargen (Region 12) and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among other areas hit by a magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck southern Philippines on Wednesday night.
Sevilla said Education Secretary Leonor Briones instructed the department’s Disaster Risk Reduction Management Services to inspect all schools affected by the earthquake for infrastructure damage.
She added that the process of consolidation of the reports was ongoing and the extent and cost of damage have yet to be determined.
“Until now the consolidation process is ongoing, but we have not yet gotten the number of casualties or major damage but we have protocols and procedures implemented already,” Sevilla said.
DepEd Region 11 Spokesman Jenelito Atillo said it was his first time to experience a strong earthquake.
Atillo lauded the local government units that immediately suspended classes to ensure the safety of students and teachers, who were also instructed to inspect classrooms and other facilities for damage.
“‘The order was all the teachers should report to the schools to check their classrooms and then report to the principal if there is damage to deal with it instantly, but since there are no classes, they can go home immediately and prepare for the next day if the suspension will be lifted,” said Atillo.
The earthquake struck at 7:37pm on Wednesday, killing at least six people and injuring 27 others. Its epicentre was in North Cotabato.
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