August opening for next school year eyed – DepEd

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 21)— The opening of classes for the next school year may be moved to a later date due to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, the Department of Education said Tuesday.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones told CNN Philippines that upon consultations with partners and experts, the agency is looking at August as the possible new timeline for resumption of classes.

"We have been having nationwide consultations. The leaning is towards August for opening," Briones said in an interview with The Source.

"Sangayon sa batas, we should open classes first week of June, up to the last day of August. 'Yun ang window namin. Ang mukhang trend na lumalabas is really for August," she added.

[Translation: According to the law, we should open classes 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.]

Should the move be finalized, Briones said the department is also looking into the possible implementation of Saturday "stay-at-home" classes— so that the next school year can wrap up in line with the original schedule.

"Ang concern namin, gusto namin matapos din by March, but at the same time, mag-comply ng number of days which is required by law for students to be learning," the Education chief said. "Kinoconsider namin ang possibility ng Saturday classes, pero hindi 'yung mga face-to-face classes, they can do their work at home."

[Translation: Our concern is we want the school year to end by March, but at the same time, we want to comply with the number of days which is required by law for students to be learning. We're also considering the possibility of Saturday classes, but not face-to-face classes, they can do their work at home.]

Briones, however, stressed that DepEd will also be awaiting the recommendations of the government's COVID-19 task force regarding the imposed community quarantine in several regions in the country, as such decisions will have an impact on their timeline.

Education Spokesperson Anna Sevilla meanwhile said the department is also looking into the possible adjustment of the present budget in order to provide more resources for online communication and training, as well as other digital learning resources.

"Other expenses will be lowered and will be source of fund for new or emerging activities," Sevilla said in a message to reporters.

The agency earlier announced that graduation rites in the country will be postponed indefinitely due to government restrictions against the infectious disease. Majority of DepEd's scheduled programs, including preparations for the openings, have also been put on hold due to the quarantine protocols.

To date, the country has recorded 6,459 cases of the viral disease, including 613 recoveries and 428 fatalities.