There will be no change in the public school calendar this year. As in all previous years, the schools will open in June – after the summer months of March, April, and May. This school year 2020-2021, Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla of the Department of Education (DepEd) announced, classes in kindergarten, elementary, junior high school, and senior high school will start on Monday, June 1.
Some years ago, there was a move to align the Philippines’ school calendar with those of the United States and other countries, which begin in September. From the old opening day in June, Ateneo moved its opening day to August – closer to the September opening in the US. De la Salle has three regular trimesters and the first day of the first term is in August. The University of the Philippines has adopted a July opening for the school year.
Republic Act 7977 provides that the school year shall start “on the first Monday of June but no later than the last day of August.” The Department of Education is sticking to the old school calendar and it will thus begin on June 1 this year.
In her second year as head of DepEd in 2018, Secretary Leonor Briones explained why the opening of public schools would remain in June, in the face of proposals to move it to later months. “If we open in August,” she said, “that means we will be open until the summer months, and public school classrooms are not suitable for use in the summer months. The schoolrooms are going to be like an oven.”
Teachers as well as learners should be able to have their summer vacation, she said. Changing the school calendar will only make life complicated for both learners and teachers. “I believe there was logic in originally opening the classes in June, so we will abide by it,” she said.
There were bills in the Senate to move school opening day to the second Monday of August but no later than the second Monday of September, noting that most of the top institutions in the world start their acadmic calendar in August or September. In the House of Representatives, a bill also called for a change in the academic calendar so as to moderate the effects of the rainy season when classes are often suspended due to inclement weather. But these bills never made it.
And so we will begin the school year 2020-2021 as before — in June. The DepEd made the announcement early to give everyone time to prepare, especially parents who need to raise college tuition money. With our summers getting hotter, we are likely to keep opening our school year in June – until one day, perhaps, when we can equip our public school classrooms with air-conditioning.