Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Friday said that the virtual learning setup used in the current school year has led to less student- and teacher-victims of typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses.”

“Wala kaming nakikita na kagaya nung dati na may mga students, teachers that were harmed, etcetera, dahil wala naman kami face-to-face classes at this time,” she told a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) briefing.

“Rolly,” which wreaked havoc in Catanduanes and Bicol earlier this month killed 25. At least 39 deaths due to “Ulysses” were recorded by the Philippine military as of Friday morning.

Briones said President Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate to prohibit face-to-face classes amid the Covid-19 pandemic helped lessen risks among students and teachers.

However, the education sector sustained more than P5.6 billion in infrastructure damage due to the two typhoons.

“‘Yung kay Rolly pa lang ay aabot na ng P4.89 billion tapos ‘yung kay Ulysses, P800 million,” Briones said.

School laboratories, libraries, learning materials and gadgets were among those damaged, she added.

At least 345 schools are being used as evacuation centers, while 1,317 classrooms serve as temporary shelters to 8,892 families in typhoon-hit areas.

Briones also reminded government officials to not merge individuals undergoing quarantine in schools designated as isolation facilities with evacuees. John Ezekiel J. Hirro