MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law adjusting the school calendar amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Duterte signed Republic Act 11480 on Friday (July 17) but a copy of the law was released on Monday (July 20).
RA 11480 amends Section 3 of RA 7797 also known as “An act to lengthen the school calendar from 200 days to not more than 220 class days.”
The law allows the President, upon the recommendation of the Education Secretary, to set a different date for the start of the school year in the country in the event of a state of emergency or state of calamity.
“…the deferred school opening shall apply to all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools,” the law read.
Under the law, the Education Secretary will determine the end of the regular school year, taking into consideration the Christmas and summer vacation, and the particular circumstances of each region.
The Education Secretary may authorize the holding of Saturday classes for elementary and secondary levels for public and private schools.
The Department of Education (DepEd), in consultation with regular stakeholders, will issue the necessary rules and regulations for its effective implementation within 30 days after the effectivity of the act.
The act takes effect immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.
In a virtual Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the opening of classes will depend on the recommendation of DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones.
“Ang desisyon po ngayon ay August 24. Unless magkakaroon po ng bagong rekomendasyon ang ating Secretary of Education, baka hindi po mabago iyong school opening (The decision we have now is opening of classes in on August 24. Unless our Secretary of Education would give a new recommendation, the school opening may not change),” Roque said.
He said the law was signed to give the Executive Department, particularly the DepEd, “flexibility” in deciding how to adjust the school calendar.
“This certainly gives flexibility to the Executive Department kung sa tingin nila mas kinakailangan pa nang mas mahabang panahon bago tayo bumalik sa eskuwelahan (This certainly gives the Executive Department flexibility in deciding if there is a need for more time before classes can resume),” he said.
Earlier, the DepEd scheduled the school opening on Aug. 24, 2020 and the end of the school year on April 30, 2021.
Duterte has rejected the resumption of face-to-face (F2F) classes until a vaccine against Covid-19 is developed but is open to further talks.
Briones assured that in-person classes would not take place until it is safe to do so as declared by Duterte.
Instead of in-person classes, the DepEd is set to implement distance learning strategies with TV and radio-based instruction being one of the three main setups with modular and online learning as the other two options.
Students, parents, and teacher groups have protested the Aug. 24 opening of classes, saying not all of them could afford to pay for tuition and that not all of them had access to computers and the internet. (PNA)