The Department of Education (DepEd) on Friday announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved its recommendation to move the opening of School Year 2020-2021 from August 24 to October 5 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a virtual press conference, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said they submitted the recommendation to Duterte last August 6 after Metro Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna and Rizal were reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
Statement of Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones On the Opening of Classes This morning, we received a memorandum from...Posted by DepEd Philippines on Thursday, August 13, 2020
“As per the memorandum of the president, he has given approval to the recommendation of DepEd. Thus, we will now implement such a decision to defer the school opening to October 5 pursuant to Republic Act No. 11480,” Briones said, reading from a prepared statement.
Areas outside MECQ were directed to continue orientations, dry runs, and delivery of learning resources for the October 5 opening.
Several groups — among them teachers and lawmakers — have been calling on DepEd to defer the August 24 opening of classes to allow the department to fully prepare for distance learning.
Still no face-to-face
Briones also reiterated that there would still be no face-to-face learning to ensure the safety of students and school staff despite the deferment of the school opening.
“There will be no face-to-face sessions and sessions will not be limited to online sessions alone. This is because we have adapted the policy of blended learning wherein various modalities are being recommended depending on the situation at the level of the region and the school,” she said.
“We are now finalizing arrangements for television programs, radio programs and also our much-favored modular system and printed material plus many other modalities so it’s not limited to online because we know also there are limitations to online,” she added.
Briones also said this would be the final adjustment to the school opening.
What about private schools?
Briones said the postponement applies to both public and private schools, although private schools who have started classes will still be allowed to continue as long as they will comply with the minimum health standards set by the government amid the pandemic.
“[K]ung pipigilan namin sila eh nakaumpisa na, kuntodo involvement na ng mga parents tapos titigilan natin, that would not be useful at all,” Briones said.
Despite having their own operations manual, Briones said private schools are still under DepEd.
Briones said DepEd will use the deferment to “provide relief to the logistical limitations” faced by the areas under MECQ, which she said are “very significant in terms of the entirety of our learner population.”
She also said the with the new schedule, the DepEd will fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening that they are currently addressing.
Under RA 11480, the president, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Education, has the power to set at any date the opening of classes in the entire Philippines or in selected affected areas in times of state of calamity or emergency.
RA 11480 amended Republic Act 7797, which set the opening of classes as early as the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.
The measure covers all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools in the Philippines. It also allows the conduct of Saturday classes for elementary and secondary levels. —KBK, GMA News