Under new law, President may adjust it in times of calamity, emergency
A measure allowing the opening of classes beyond August in times of calamity and emergency has been signed into law by President Duterte.
Republic Act (RA) No. 11480, signed last July 17, empowers the President to adjust the start of the school year upon the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd).
The new law amends Republic Act No. 7797 which states that the class opening must begin anytime from June to August.
“The school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August: Provided, that in the event of a declaration of a state of emergency or state of calamity, the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Education, may set a different date for the start of the scholar year in the country or parts thereof,” the law read.
Under RA 11480, the deferred school opening will be applied to all basic education schools including foreign or international schools.
The education secretary must also determine the end of the regular school year, “taking into consideration the Christmas and summer vacations and the peculiar circumstances of each region.”
“In the exercise of this authority, the Secretary of Education may authorize the holding of Saturday classes for elementary and secondary levels for public and private schools,” the law stated.
The education department has been directed to issue the implementing rules and regulations of the new law in consultation with concerned stakeholders within 30 days after the effectivity of the law.
The new law takes effect immediately upon publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper.
The passage of the law comes after the government moved to implement blended learning methods in lieu of physical classes in the opening of classes next month.
Classes may be held online or via distance learning due to concerns for the health and safety of students amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The enrollment of students, however, has reportedly dropped as families cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Class opening on August 24 For now, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the opening of classes is expected to push through on August 24.
The school calendar, however, may change if education secretary recommends moving the opening date and the President agrees with it.
“Babaguhin pa ba ni Presidente ang pagbubukas ng klase? Malinaw na ang batas ay nakabase sa rekomendasyon ng Secretary of Education at ang pagbubukas sa ngayon sa 24 ng Agosto (Will the President change the opening of classes? The law is clear that it will be based on the recommendation of the Secretary of Education. As of now, the opening is set on August 24),” Roque said during a Palace press briefing Monday.
“Ang desisyon ngayon ay August 24. Unless magkakaroon ng bagong rekomendasyon ang ating Kalihim ng Education baka hindi mabago ang school opening (The decision is August 24. Unless there is a new recommendation from the Secretary of Education, the school opening might not change,” he said.
Roque said the new law gives the President “flexibility” to adjust the school opening when the country is dealing with a calamity or emergency.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones thanked President Duterte for signing RA 11480 which amended RA 7797 mandating the Secretary of Education to recommend to the Chief Executive adjustments in the school calendar in “times on national emergency.”
RA 11480 amends RA 7797, also known as “An Act to Lengthen the School Calendar from Two Hundred (200) Days to Not More Than Two Hundred Twenty (220) Class Days,” which states that the opening of classes should be between the first Monday of June to the last day of August.
Briones said that the DepEd “has been consulted and has conferred” with the President and the legislators throughout the process.
“We will issue corresponding implementing rules and regulations soonest as required by the law,” she added. (With a report from Merlina H. Malipot)