TANAUAN, Leyte-For teacher Priscilla Mesias, it is still “business as usual” despite of the bad condition of her “classroom” at the Santo Nino Elementary School on this Yolanda-hit town. Her classroom is actually a makeshift with its tarpaulin roof now torn and shredded due to its exposure to rain and heat for past months now. “While obviously our makeshift classroom is not really an ideal environment, I have to start my classes. I will fix the roof myself using the tarpaulin that I used in our house,” Mesias said. Mesias,a Grade Four teacher whose been teaching for the past 22 years now, said that she will ask a carpenter she hired to repair her house, damaged by Yolanda, to fix her makeshift classroom occupied by her 32 students. School principal Marlon Tangpuz said that all the school’s 20 classrooms were destroyed during the onslaught of Yolanda, with the schools more than 500 students occupying five makeshift classrooms and three tents donated by the United Nations for the meantime. “Several groups visited our school promising to donate classrooms but up to this time, all these promises remain to be promises. Hope they will really make good of their promise,” Tangpuz said. Among the groups was JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) which plan to construct eight classrooms. The construction is expected to start within the month per information he received from the group, the school principal said. This is the same school that was visited by world-famous soccer player David Beckham on February 14, 2013 sponsored by the Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund). Four of the school’s students died during the typhoon. Students occupying in tents or makeshifts was a common scenario in other areas hit by Yolanda. At the San Jose Elementary School in San Jose District, Tacloban, the more than 2,100 students who have so far enrolled at the said school, have to contend in makeshifts as their classrooms. All the school’s 90 classrooms were destroyed or damaged because of the typhoon, said its principal Monina Gabrino. The school is now using 28 makeshift or temporary learning spaces. For teacher Lerma Dado, who handles Grade II, said that she is “excited” to come back to school to see her students. “And so far, they appeared not be traumatized by the typhoon. They participate in our class discussions,” she said, referring to her 32 students who have so far enrolled. Students are expected to enroll even up to the end of the month. Lorna Abadilla, 30, said that she transferred her son, Charles Alfred, to San Jose Elementary School from his previous school at the Fisherman’s Elementary School which was completely washed out due to the typhoon. “It was his decision to study in other school. I think, he still has a trauma as his teacher, Silvino Silvano, even died during the Yolanda,” the mother said. The Fisherman’s Elementary School is located in Barangay 88, Costa Brava, also in San Jose which is considered to be the hardest-hit area in Tacloban with more than 1,200 casualties. The San Jose Elementary School is located in Barangay 89, also in San Jose and one of the biggest public schools in Tacloban in terms of population. Before Yolanda, its student population was more than 4,200. About 123 students were confirmed to have died due to Yolanda. At the Carmen Elementary School in Hernani, one of the hardest-hit towns in Eastern Samar, principal Edmundo Guro said that his 164 students are to contend in makeshift classrooms. He said that the school had previously seven classrooms but when Yolanda struck, only three managed to withstand the onslaught although their roofs were blown away. “We have to put tarpaulins as temporary roof to these classrooms to protect our students from rain and heat,” Guro, reached on the phone, said. Meantime, 147 families remain at the 20 schoolrooms of the San Fernando Central School (SFCS) in Tacloban as the city government has yet to relocate them. Rosario Aurea, 58, said that they are just “too willing” to transfer if only they can be assured of a temporary shelter. “The classes started already and we don’t like to be a disturbance,” she said. “We are already tired of living in a classroom. I think, we deserve a better living condition compare to here as we don’t have any privacy at all,” Aurea said. On their own, she said, they could not transfer as they don’t have a means to do so. SFCS principal Imelda Gayas said that while she understand the plight of the evacuees, she also want them to leave the school. “We could have used the school rooms that they are presently occupying,” she said. Their presence, she said, could also pose some “hazards” to the students as some of them openly conduct their drinking spree. The school had 67 classrooms, with 29 of them totally destroyed. (ROEL T.AMAZONA/RYAN GABRIEL ARCENAS)