MANILA — It may take 3 to 5 years before schools could bring back the June to March academic calendar, which several groups sought due to harsh heat in classrooms during the dry season, an official said on Tuesday.
This timeline is based on an ongoing study by the agency, which is also coordinating with state weather bureau PAGASA, DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said.
PAGASA last week declared the onset of El Niño, which is expected to bring hot and dry weather across the Philippines.
"We are waiting for the final evaluation of the team. There are preliminary findings given to us, dalawang aspect talaga yung tinitingnan natin. Yung una, kung babalik ba tayo, kasi ang sabi, napakinit sa ating mga classrooms during the summer season," Poa said in a chance interview.
"Pangalawa, and this is more important, if we decide to go back...it won't happen this year. In fact, from the findings given to me, it will take at least 3 to around 5 years," he added.
(We are looking at two aspects. The first one is whether or not we will go back to the old calendar because they say it is hot in classrooms during the dry season. Second, and this is more important, if we decide to go back, it won't happen this year.)
Poa earlier said the DepEd was also taking into consideration the minimum number of school days, which is currently at 200. He said authorities had to identify which areas would be affected, and the pros and cons of reverting to the pre-pandemic school calendar.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on education, has suggested cutting the school break to one to two weeks per school year, until the academic calendar returns to the June school opening.
Meanwhile, the DepEd spokesperson also urged school officials to stop requiring students to go to school if it was too hot outside.
The Teachers' Dignity Coalition earlier said teachers and students suffered from extreme heat, with some getting sick and classes interrupted.
"Now pagdating naman sa init, we have alternative delivery modes and we reiterated to our school heads na kapag sobrang init sa school niyo, huwag niyo nang papasukin yung mga bata, mayroon naman na tayong alternative delivery modes," Poa said.
"We also have to talk about yung dati, yung problema natin bagyo baha, and all those things. Yan yung isang talagang pinapa-consider talaga namin sa team," he added.
(When it comes to the heat, we have alternative delivery modes and we reiterated to our school heads that when it's too hot, don't make the children come to school. We have alternative delivery modes anyway. We also have to talk about the problem of typhoons in the old calendar. We have instructed the team to consider that.)
In the House of Representatives, lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc filed a bill seeking to bring back the June to March school calendar.
The school break in public schools was moved to different months over the last 3 years, as school opening dates were adjusted due to the pandemic. School Year (SY) 2020-2021 began in October, SY 2021-2022 in September, and the current SY 2022-2023 in August.