Senators welcome deferment to Oct.5 of opening of classes

Senators on Friday welcomed the Department of Education’s (DepEd) decision to recommend the postponement of the opening of classes for School Year 2020-2021 to October that has been approved by President Duterte.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, said that considering the uncertainties the country faces amid the surging number of COVID-19 cases nationwide, invoking Republic Act No. 11480, which amends the country’s school calendar law is the most prudent course of action.

“This is a tough decision to make but the safety of our teachers, learners, personnel and their families should be our utmost priority,” Gatchalian said when sought to comment.

DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, in a statement, said the opening of classes would now be moved from Aug. 24 to October 5.

Sen. Francis Tolentino, likewise, thanked President Duterte and the DepEd secretary for considering his proposal.

“I thank President Duterte and Secretary Briones for the timely postponement of the school opening from August 24, 2020 to October 2020, as it addresses the relevant health issues, DepEd preparedness, parents’ livelihoods and other interconnectivity concerns,” Tolentino said in a separate statement.

“Listening to the voices  of other sectors especially the parents, teachers and the LGUs (local government units) paved the way for this appropriate and humane  decision.” He said.

Tolentino said the extra days given the DepEd should enable them to prepare more sustainably “given the critical situation we are all in.”

Gatchalian agreed saying that between now and October 5, it is crucial that preparations continue to fine-tune all aspects of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP).

“These include the completion of self-learning modules, improving our radio and television-based education programs, and other alternative learning modalities,” he said.

“Another crucial point I would like to emphasize is to give teachers assurance in terms of their welfare and health care needs, especially if they fall ill to the coronavirus,” the senator emphasized.

Gatchalian said the success of the BE-LCP’s roll-out depends on the confidence that the government will inspire among teachers by upholding their welfare.

“We need to stretch our efforts to reach more than four million learners who are at risk of becoming out-of-school children and youth,” he stressed.