With just 10 days before the scheduled opening of schools, President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to move the start of classes for the incoming school year to October 5, 2020.
In a memorandum issued by Malacañang on August 14, 2020, Duterte approved the Department of Education’s (DepEd) recommendation to reschedule the opening of classes amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) health crisis.
“Please be informed that pursuant to the instructions of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and as recommended by the DepEd, the opening of classes is deferred to 05 October 2020,” read the memorandum inked by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, by virtue of Duterte.
The President’s fresh directive was based on Republic Act 11480, which allows him to set a different date for the start of the school year in the country during a state of emergency or state of calamity.
His decision also came following appeals to consider the postponement of the opening of classes on August 24, 2020.
The Palace memorandum directs DepEd to ensure that all preparations have been made for the “smooth and successful” virtual opening of classes for Academic Year 2020-2021.
The law states that the school year will start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.
The DepEd initially scheduled school opening on August 24 and the end of the academic year on April 30, 2021.
In a press statement, DepEd said the deferment of classes would allow the department to “fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening” that it is currently addressing.
“We trust that this is the final adjustment of the school opening,” it said.
The DepEd has expressed readiness to implement blended learning, which is a combination of online distance learning and in-person delivery of education materials to the homes of learners, due to the pandemic.
Duterte has repeatedly said he would only permit face-to-face classes once a Covid-19 vaccine is developed.
In a separate press statement, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go said the postponement of the opening of classes would give learning institutions and education authorities more time to prepare for the implementation of blended learning.
Go, one of the lawmakers who pushed for the postponement, said it is also necessary to reschedule the start of classes to ensure the safety of learners and teachers amid the pandemic.
“Gusto lang natin siguraduhin na ligtas at magiging maayos ang implementasyon para hindi na madagdagan ang paghihirap ng mga tao. Buhay at kapakanan ng mga Pilipino ang palaging uunahin natin (We just want to make sure that the implementation [of blended learning] is safe and organized to reduce the people’s burden. We will always prioritize the lives and welfare of Filipinos),” he said.
Go also said moving the class opening to October 5 would benefit students as they would have more time to adapt to the planned shift to a new mode of teaching.
He made the remarks as he acknowledged that some are having a difficult time coping with the health crisis.
“Layunin po natin na masigurong may pantay-pantay na pagkakataong makapag-aral ang mga kabataan, anuman ang kanilang antas sa buhay at asan man silang parte ng bansa, sa paraang ligtas at hindi masyadong pabigat sa kasalukuyan nating sitwasyon (It is our objective to ensure that all students have equal access to education, regardless of their status and location and without compromising their safety amid the current situation in the country),” Go said. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, PNA)