By Azer Parrocha
MANILA – The Congress may amend the law to move the schedule of opening of classes amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark following some parents’ concern on the safety of their children when classes resume on August 24.
“Kung mataas pa rin ang banta sa ating mga kabataan, siguro kinakailangan amyendahan ng Kongreso ang batas na ‘yan (If the threat is still high for our youth, perhaps the Congress can amend that law),” Roque said in a virtual presser.
He pointed out that the Department of Education (DepEd) was simply following the law by opening classes for both public and private schools.
Under Republic Act No. 7977, 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,” the “school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.”
“Kasi po may batas. Ang batas po nagsasabi na kinakailangan magbukas ang mga eskuwelahan na ang pinaka late na po diyan ay yung last week of August (Because there’s a law. The law states that classes must open by the last week of August at the latest),” he said.
Senator President Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a bill seeking to allow the opening of classes in September or any month to give the DepEd more time to adapt to the “new normal”.
SBN 1438 will amend RA 7977 and serve as the enabling law for the execution of the April 24 recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to move the class opening to September.
“The approved recommendation of the IATF-EID runs counter to the law… To remedy the situation created by Covid-19 and consequently allow the execution of the IATF-EID recommendation, this measure is being proposed,” Sotto said in a statement.
The DepEd has set the opening of school year 2020-2021 on August 24 while the end of school year will be on April 30, 2021.
Private schools and state or local universities and colleges (SUCs/LUCs) will be allowed to open classes earlier provided that “no face-to-face classes” will be allowed earlier than August 24.
Face-to-face classes may be conducted only in areas allowed to open physically.
Once schools open, they will be encouraged to combine face-to-face learning with distance learning.
Unless conducted through online platforms, DepEd has canceled the conduct of curricular and co-curricular activities that involve gathering of large number of learners, such as science fairs, school sports, campus journalism, and other similar activities.
The “Palarong Pambansa” activities shall be decided separately by its own governing board.
Meanwhile, teachers must start reporting for work on June 1 upon completion of summer vacation on May 31. Orientation and training activities on the utilization of the distance learning delivery modalities will be conducted. (ia/PNA)