Private institutions that have already started classes may be allowed to proceed – Briones
President Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Department of Education (DepEd) to move the school opening to October 5, from the August 24 schedule. In a memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on August 14, the DepEd is instructed “to ensure that all preparations have been made for the smooth and successful virtual opening of classes for the Academic Year 2020-2021.”
Malacañang's memorandum was issued after senators called on DepEd to postpone the scheduled school opening on August 24 following concerns on coping with the challenges of blended learning.
Briones explained that the postponement of the school opening covers both public and private schools nationwide.
However, she clarified that private schools that have already started classes may be allowed to proceed.
She said that if the basic education units are attached to bigger universities or colleges, they will be allowed to continue their classes. This also applies to smaller or stand-alone private schools that have started their operations.
“If they have started classes, they may continue to do so because it will be a great disappointment for the children and the schools because they were able to adjust already and it is also for teachers who are affected by the pandemic,” she ended.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones explained that DepEd had recommended last August 6 the deferment of the opening of classes “in response to the implications of imposition of Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and in the provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal.” The DepEd has resorted to distance learning and online learning after President Duterte thumbed down face-to-face classes until a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed. Last month, President
Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11480 that authorizes the country’s President to reschedule the opening of classes nationwide or in specific parts of the country to a different date in times of crisis.
Briones said that the DepEd will use the deferment to “provide relief to the logistical limitations faced by the areas placed under MECQ and to fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening that we are currently addressing.”
Meanwhile, those schools that are located in areas outside MECQ are directed to “continue their orientations, dry runs, and delivery of learning resources so that we will be ready for the opening of classes” on October 5.
In an interview with CNN Philippines on Friday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said moving the opening of schools to a later date would be challenging for public schools as some private schools have already started their classes.
“Ang iniiwasan po natin na magiging behind ang ating mga public elementary and high school students natin (What we're trying to avoid is our public elementary and high school students being left behind),” he said.
Briones said that the moving of classes to October was based on the effect of MECQ in the two regions – National Capital Region (NCR) and Region IV-A – that have the “biggest number of enrollment” for this school year.
“Some suggested September but the President chose October to give space for school opening preparations,” she added. This is the second time that the DepEd has moved the school opening.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, school opening for SY 2020-2021 was originally scheduled on June 1. Due to the ongoing public health situation, DepEd had decided to move the school opening to Aug. 24.
“We trust that this is the final adjustment of the school opening,” she said.