As the clamor to move the school opening to a later date intensifies, Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Thursday said that only the Executive branch can decide on this - taking into consideration the recommendation of the Department of Education (DepEd) and other concerned agencies.
“There’s a new law which gives the Executive branch the authority to decide on school opening under the recommendation of the Secretary of the DepEd - which will be the basis of the decision also of the President,” Briones said during a virtual presser of Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on COVID-19 updates in the country.
Briones was referring to Republic Act No. 11480 which was signed by Duterte in July and gives the President the power to reopen schools later than August or “set a different date” of school opening during a state of emergency.
“Very likely, this will be an Executive decision but taking into consideration the kind of advice or recommendation needed in certain situations,” Briones stressed.
As advised by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), there will be no face-to-face classes when the School Year (SY) 2020-2021 formally opens on August 24. Schools were instructed to implement various learning delivery modalities under Blended/Distance learning approach.
Briones said that DepEd also has a calendar of activities. “In the first week - starting August 24 - will consist of orientations,” she explained. “In each region, the regional director can work out ways to what they can do within the limitations of what the IATF and DOH tell them,” she added.
Amid the pandemic, Briones underscored the need for learning continuity. “We have schools that are high-performing and we have certain schools that need catching-up so we need to continue learning delivery in whatever form available,” she added.
Postpone Aug. 24 school opening
Citing the worsening public health situation in the country, teachers groups also urged DepEd and the government to move the school opening to a later date.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, in separate statements, asked the government to rethink the school opening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
ACT called on senators to pass a resolution urging the President to postpone formal school opening. “It’s therefore clear as day that school opening must be postponed, and we urge our legislators to wield as much power as they have to make this happen,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said. “Otherwise, the government may knowingly send education workers, parents, and learners to high-risk situations as the pandemic rages on and just as well deny at least 4 million learners their constitutionally-protected right to quality education,” he ended.