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DepEd says next schoolyear will open on Aug. 24

Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Tuesday said the opening of the schoolyear 2020-2021 will be on August 24.

"Ang napili nating school opening date ay August 24," Briones said during a Laging Handa public briefing.

However, this means students will either go to class physically or via online due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) implemented in different parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the schoolyear will end on April 30, 2021, Briones said.

"Una sa lahat, ang pinakamalaking konsiderasyon natin dito ay to protect the health and safety and well-being of learners. 'Yun ang pinakaunang priority natin," she said.

In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the government respects the decision of the DepEd on school opening.

"We respect the decision of DepEd to open some of the schools on the 24th [of August]. Wala na pong ibang desisyon ang IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] diyan," Roque said in a televised briefing.

Huge challenge

Briones said the new setup will pose a huge challenge for the Department of Education (DepEd), as new teaching methodologies before the COVID-19 pandemic, including Flexible Learning Options (FLOs), have been fast-tracked.

"May mga schools na handa na daw sila na magbukas ng online, public o private, ng kanilang school lessons. Marami ring through the cellphone. Nag-survey kami, puwede ding sa telebisyon at saka sa radyo," Briones said.

"Napansin namin na 'yung pinakamalaki para sa mga malalayong lugar ay sa radyo," she added.

Briones also announced the cancellation of school-related activities that gather huge crowds, including the Palarong Pambansa, talent contests and Brigada Eskwela.

Science fairs, trade fairs, campus journalism, job fairs are also canceled especially those in regions where ECQ is implemented.

Briones also ordered teachers to render service to DepEd, whether physically or virtually, from June 1 to June 30, for them to undergo capacity building for new lessons, including the DepEd Commons. 

Senate bills

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he will still push for the bill granting authority to President Rodrigo Duterte to move the schedule of opening of classes despite the DepEd announcement.

"Yes. Because my bill gives the President the power to adjust [the] school calendar unlike the previous law," Sotto answered in the affirmative when asked by reporters.

Sotto recently filed Senate Bill No. 1438 which aims to amend Section 3 of the Republic Act No. 7977 or the Act on Lengthening of School Calendar.

A similar bill seeking to give flexibility to DepEd on adjusting the schedule of the academic year opening "in case of a declaration of a state of emergency, state of calamity or similar occurrence" was also filed by Senator Joel Villanueva. — with Virgil Lopez/KG/RSJ, GMA News