MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Education (DepEd) announced Friday that the opening of classes has been moved to Oct. 5, heeding calls for adjustments as the Philippine education system shifts to distance learning.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved delaying the opening of classes in both public and private schools after DepEd raised implications of the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby urban hubs on preparations for the new school year, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.
"We will implement such a decision to defer school opening to October 5 pursuant to Republic Act No. 11480," Briones said.
"We shall use the deferment to provide relief to the logistical limitations faced by the areas placed under MECQ and to fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening that we are currently addressing," she added.
Classes were supposed to open on Aug. 24, with students learning at home - either through online, tv, radio, or printed materials, to avoid possible exposure to COVID-19.
But Metro Manila and nearby provinces were placed back under MECQ from Aug. 4 to 18 as COVID-19 cases surged.
Briones said even with the Oct. 5 opening of classes, blended learning would still be used as face-to-face classes remain prohibited.
Private schools, many of which are attached to universities and colleges, that have already started their classes will meanwhile be allowed to continue.
Adjusting the school calendar became possible after President Duterte signed into law a measure allowing DepEd to move the opening of classes beyond August as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the education system.
Several groups and lawmakers have earlier called on DepEd to delay the opening of classes as more time is needed to prepare to transition to distance learning.
Briones made the announcement a day after President Duterte's former aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go urged DepEd to move the opening of classes to October.
"Even with the implementation of MECQ, we will use this time to make the necessary adjustments and ensure that all preparations have been made for the successful opening of classes for School Year 2020-2021," the education chief said.
PREPARATIONS TO CONTINUE
With the delay in the start of the new school year, Briones said teachers and students should continue with their preparations for the meantime.
"Patuloy ang upskilling ng ating teachers, patuloy ang pag-prepare ng ating learners," Briones said.
(Upskilling of teachers will continue, preparations of learners will continue.)
Changes in the curriculum are likely, Briones said as DepEd needs to make adjustments in the school calendar.
"We will have to make the corresponding adjustments kasi siguradong apektado diyan ang curriculum at ang readiness ng bata," the education chief said.
Some 23 million learners have enrolled for the upcoming school year, 21 million of whom are in public schools or 95 percent of last year's figure, according to DepEd data presented to the Senate.
The enrollment figure remained dismal in private schools with only 1.5 million enrolled learners, or 36.1 percent from last year's 4.3 million.