Leonor Briones, the secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), today said that she is eyeing to push the opening of the school year to August due to the dangers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been having nationwide consultations [with different experts]. The leaning is towards August for opening,” Briones said in an interview today with television talk show The Source.
She added that this is in compliance with Republic Act 7977, which requires the school year to start not later than August.
“According to the law, we should open classes [on the] first week of June, up to the last day of August. That’s our window. But the trend that we’re seeing is really for August,” she said.
Briones said that public schools can also offer Saturday classes so that that the school year could end on time.
“Our concern is we want the school year to end by March, but at the same time, to comply with the number of days which is required by law for students to be learning [in school]…We’re also considering the possibility of Saturday classes, but no face-to-face classes. They can do their work at home,” Briones said.
She added that the DepEd is still waiting for the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Diseases’ (IATF) recommendation on whether the Luzon lockdown will be extended or modified. While the IATF can make suggestions, President Rodrigo Duterte has the sole authority to put Luzon or any other part of the Philippines on quarantine.
DepEd has postponed graduation rites nationwide indefinitely, following the extension of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine which prohibits mass gatherings.
Meanwhile, Professor Mahar Lagmay of the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute said in a virtual presser today that suspension of classes until the end of the year can lessen the transmission of the coronavirus.
“If there are no classes until December, there will be a greater decrease in the transmission of the COVID-19…This is one of the recommendations [which we gave] on the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in English and Filipino.
Based on studies, physical interaction is greatest among groups aged 0 to 19, most of whom are students, Lagmay said.