MANILA — Despite calls from various groups, the Department of Education cannot declare a nationwide "academic break" because the COVID-19 situation varies across the country, an official said Wednesday.
"Hindi puwedeng sa buong bansa sasabihin [namin na] magkakaroon ng academic break kasi iba-iba naman 'yong COVID situation," Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said in an online press conference.
(We can't say that there's going to be an academic break in the entire country because the COVID situation is different in each area.)
"Kung ano iyong sitwasyon sa COVID-19 ay dapat may angkop na aksiyon ang ating mga principal, mga schools superintendent," he said.
(Whatever the COVID situation is in an area, the principals and school superintendents should take appropriate actions.)
San Antonio also reminded the public that schools can implement an "academic ease" policy, under which deadlines for requirements can be moved or some items in learning modules can be considered optional.
Should public schools opt to take a break, they have to make adjustments to meet the minimum number of school days for the academic year, San Antonio said.
In the same conference, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the declaration of an academic break also depends on the advice of the Department of Health.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Teachers' Dignity Coalition earlier called for "health breaks" in public schools, saying many educators and students have gotten sick with either flu-like symptoms or COVID-19.
Last week, several higher education institutions and private schools declared class suspensions from Jan. 10 onwards as teachers and students fell ill.
The Philippines has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. On Wednesday, the country reported 32,246 new infections.