Puebla, Mexico (PVDN) – Due to the significant ash fall resulting from the activity of the Popocatépetl volcano, the Puebla government has moved to suspend in-person classes, opting for remote education in the Izta-Popo region.
Governor Sergio Salomón Céspedes Peregrina contemplated this decision in response to the ash fallout from Puebla’s mighty volcano. Following a consultation with his cabinet and local municipal leaders in San Andrés Calpan, he embarked on a tour around the volcano, subsequently affirming the move towards remote education in the region.
“We convened a meeting with all the municipal leaders of Izta-Popo to examine the evacuation routes and to determine the necessary preventive measures,” he stated. “We’ve concluded that the best course of action is to revert to remote learning, reminiscent of the pandemic-era strategy in these schools.”
The decision will be announced officially soon in a statement. Currently, the volcano’s activity remains within “normal” limits for Phase 2, maintaining a Yellow Phase status on the risk traffic light, as the governor noted.
He added that there is ongoing coordination with government agencies at all levels, highlighting that the state Civil Protection is actively generating the required conditions. “Health, Ministry of Public Education, Civil Protection, Interior – all key areas are holding regular meetings. We’ll be alert to provide updates throughout the day,” he assured.
These actions are primarily precautionary, aiming to be prepared for any eventual changes in the volcanic activity of the Popocatépetl, a longstanding symbol of Puebla.
The governor also hinted at plans to establish shelters. “We hope it doesn’t come to that. But we need to create health-based preventive measures, even if their effects seem minor. We have to be extremely vigilant,” he emphasized.
The Puebla government reported that within the last 24 hours, the Popocatépetl volcano recorded three exhalations, emitting water vapor, gases, and ash, including incandescent material. As a preventive measure, they have recommended the use of face masks, especially in specific municipalities.
Institutions like the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP) have already taken measures, mandating the use of face masks within their premises at the Atlixco and Izúcar de Matamoros units.
The state’s Undersecretary of the Interior, Andrés Villegas Mendoza, estimated a 72-hour timeframe to evacuate nearby communities if a red phase alert is issued. He explained that this is due to the precautionary measures and coordination between authorities. But he emphasized, “We’re still in a medium-level risk phase.”
Commencing May 18, 2023, remote classes will be implemented in eleven municipalities due to the health implications of the ash fall. Meanwhile, five municipalities will continue face-to-face classes, though outdoor activities are discouraged, and the use of face masks is recommended.
The municipalities where virtual classes will commence are Atlixco, Calpan, Huaquechula, Huejotzingo, Nealtican, San Diego Tochimiltzingo, San Gregorio Atzompa, San Jerónimo Tecuanipan, San Nicolás de los Ranchos, Santa Isabel Cholula, and Teopatlán.
In contrast, face-to-face classes will persist in Puebla, San Andrés Cholula, San Pedro Cholula, Cuautlancingo, and Ocoyucan. However, these areas will maintain strict safety measures, discouraging outdoor activities and endorsing the use of face masks.
Governor Peregrina emphasized that while there’s no imminent danger, these measures are crucial for citizens’ health and safety. He explained, “These steps are preventive in nature, aiming to preserve the wellbeing of our citizens. The health sector is prepared to handle any potential issues, but we pray that won’t be necessary.”
The Puebla government remains on high alert, monitoring the situation around the clock. In the last 24 hours, Popocatépetl volcano had three exhalations, each emitting water vapor, gases, ash, and glowing fragments. Given this, the state administration highly encourages the use of face masks, particularly in municipalities most affected by the ash fall.
Institutions such as the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP) have adopted similar preventive measures, enforcing the mandatory use of face masks within their campuses for the Atlixco and Izúcar de Matamoros units.
Andrés Villegas Mendoza, the Undersecretary of the Interior of Puebla, stated that evacuating communities near the volcano would require around 72 hours if the situation escalates to a red phase alert. However, he underscored that currently, the volcano’s activity is still at a moderate level. “We hope it doesn’t escalate to a red light phase, which would necessitate evacuation. Let’s remain calm. We’re still at a yellow light phase 3, which is a pre-evacuation stage,” he explained.
In preparation, four shelters, three schools, and a sports unit in San Pedro Cholula and Huejotzingo are being organized. Evacuation, if required, would proceed via ten routes. With these measures in place, Puebla’s government hopes to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all its residents, even in the face of potential volcanic activity.
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