The Department of Education's decision to reschedule the opening of classes to October 5 was a "prudent" move, senators said on Friday.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the basic education committee, said the still increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines is one major factor that must be considered.
"This is a tough decision to make but the safety of our teachers, learners, personnel and their families should be our utmost priority," Gatchalian said in a statement.
"Between now and October 5, it is crucial that preparations continue to fine-tune all aspects of the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (LCP)," he added.
Aside from the completion of self-learning modules, and improvement of TV- and radio-based learning instructions, Gatchalian said that teachers' welfare should also be given attention.
He underscored that the success of the LCP "depends on the confidence that we inspire among our teachers by upholding their welfare."
The DepEd should also find ways to reach out to the four million learners that have not enrolled yet, Gatchalian added.
Senator Francis Tolentino also thanked the executive branch for its "appropriate and humane decision."
The deferment of the opening of classes addresses the relevant issues on health, preparedness, parents’ livelihood, and other interconnectivity concerns, he said.
"The extra days given [to] DepEd should enable them to prepare more sustainably given the critical situation we are all in," he added.
The DepEd announced earlier that President Rodrigo Duterte approved its recommendation to move the opening of School Year 2020-2021 from August 24 to October 5.
Both Gatchalian and Tolentino previously urged the DepEd to reschedule the class opening even only in areas under a modified enhanced community quarantine.
Meanwhile, Senator Bong Go, who suggested moving the opening to October, welcomed the executive branch's decision.
Go said the postponement would help ensure that learning amid the pandemic would be more equitable for Filipino learners.
"Alalahanin po natin na marami pa pong hindi nakakabili ng kailangan sa eskwela o wala pang pambayad ng matrikula dahil nawalan ng trabaho," he said.
"Layunin po natin na masigurong may pantay-pantay na pagkakataong makapag-aral ang mga kabataan, anuman ang kanilang antas sa buhay at nasaan man silang parte ng bansa, sa paraang ligtas at hindi masyadong pabigat sa kasalukuyan nating sitwasyon," he added.
Senator Joel Villanueva, expressing full support for the decision, said "all the updates that Deped reported to the Senate basic education committee early this week point to the postponement of the opening of classes."
He acknowledged that it was a hard decision for Education Secretary Leonor Briones who had been eager to start the classes as scheduled.
"We commend her for considering the welfare of our students and teachers in arriving at the decision," Villanueva said.
Further, he emphasized that flexibility must be given to schools that already started their classes.
"If there are no significant setbacks or hindrances in terms of their classes, the department should let them proceed," he said.
Over 23 million learners from Kindergarten to Grade 12 nationwide have enrolled for the upcoming school year, according to the DepEd. — DVM GMA News