DepEd chief power to set school opening welcomed

TEACHERS’ group welcomed the swift action of Congress on several proposals that would grant power to the President or the Secretary of Education to determine the date of opening of classes during the times of emergency.

The proposal seeks to amend RA 7797 which strictly sets the date of school opening from June to August.

According to TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas the school opening for school year 2020-2021 is almost certain on August 24, but they still consider it as tentative pending the bills in both houses of Congress.

“While the President gives his go signal for a ‘blended’ schooling, this will only be finalized when the public is assured of the capacity of the system for remote learning and after the scientific assessment of COVID-19 situation in the country prior to August 24.”  Basas said in his statement.

“Things may also change when a bill or any resolution for the postponement of school opening gets the approval of Congress,” he added.

He also said the reality is, we are not prepared perhaps we need a little more time to prepare, saying they have seen  parents, especially those in the poorest section of our society responded on distance learning approach- whether online which will be needing internet connectivity or modular, which necessitates a minimal academic skills for parents or guardians.

The TDC found allies in both chambers and from the local government executives. Both the League of Municipalities and League of Provinces  raised their concerns on August 24 school opening.

Earlier, Iloilo City mayor Jerry Trenas and his counterpart in Iloilo province Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr. also said they will not support the school opening on said date.

The House Committee on Basic Education chaired by Rep. Roman Romulo calls for a public hearing (May 30) to tackle several bills revising the school calendar where Basas is expected to participate as one of resource persons.

“In the event that Congress approves this proposal, it would not necessarily stop the scheduled school opening in August, but rather it would give prerogative to the President or the Education Secretary to decide on the date of school opening for future emergencies or any fortuitous event that would make schooling impractical. With or without this pandemic, the law would still be relevant,” Basas ended.

The TDC, citing studies from UP Resilience Institute that the safe school opening is after December 2020 and the obvious lack of infrastructure and capacity of school system for distance learning agreed that school year 2020-2021 opening may be moved to January 2021.