MANILA - It’s all systems go for the August 24 school opening but President Rodrigo Duterte will make a final decision on July 15, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones said Thursday.
Briones gave this statement during Thursday’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, which centered on the preparedness of government, schools and teachers in undertaking an effective and safe school year amid the continuous threat of COVID-19.
"On July 15, we will meet again. By that time, we will have number of enrollees then report to the President for his consideration," Briones said when Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian asked if the department would proceed with the face-to-face teaching scheme.
One major consideration is the status of the much-awaited vaccine to combat COVID-19, Briones said.
As of the morning of June 11, a total of 9.96 million learners have already enrolled in the month-long enlistment this June, with the first two weeks strictly via remote enrollment.
About 2 months before the expected opening of classes, the DepEd has been printing learning materials intended for areas that have no access to the internet, television or radio, Briones said.
There will be trainings for the 800,000 teachers, who will also be given desktop sets for their teaching needs.
The first week of this year's school calendar will be dedicated to "basic principles in protecting health, safety and well-being," the DepEd chief said.
The DepEd should also consider expenses in terms of electric consumptions for both parents and children, and expenses for risographs or reproduction of learning materials, the Philippine Elementary School Principals Association (PESPA) said.
Internet expenses personally shouldered by parents and teachers, and unstable internet connection in the coutry should also be addressed, said Warlito Rosareal, president of the National Association of Public Secondary Schools of the Philippines.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that he was not sure if the Philippines was "ready" to shift to a blended learning system, but Briones said the country can "never attain full readiness."
"We can never attain full readiness because the world is changing rapidly," Briones said.
"By the time we are 100 percent ready, other problems and complications [would] have come in."