Private schools free to start distance learning classes before October 5 – DepEd

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) — It’s settled. Private schools can conduct distance learning classes ahead of the October 5 start date required for public institutions, the Department of Education clarified on Saturday.

The DepEd said in a statement it had to confer with the Office of the Executive Secretary on President Rodrigo Duterte’s memorandum delaying the school opening, which was initially set for August 24.

“DepEd hereby clarifies that such private or non-DepEd schools that have already started their classes, or are scheduled to start classes on August 24 or on other dates ahead of October 5, are allowed to proceed provided they are strictly using only distance learning modalities and that there are no face-to-face classes,” the department said.

READ: Why CHED cannot move opening of classes similar to DepEd

The private schools were ordered to submit relevant documents to prove their readiness, including the plan for compliance with health protocols and alternative learning methods, and academic calendar.

In a surprise press conference on Friday, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that although private schools are under DepEd regulation, the government will not stop those that have already resumed classes. There was no categorical answer on whether the rest of the private schools should abide by the six-week postponement.

This prompted the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations to seek clarification. It said more than half of their 2,500 member schools now have ongoing classes, while the rest are all set for this month.

Lawmakers and several groups have been calling on the government to push back the academic year 2020-2021, saying the schools, teachers, and learners are not ready, even for blended learning which does not require face-to-face classes due to the pandemic.

Briones previously rejected calls to move the opening of classes, insisting that preparations were underway for the new modes of teaching which involve a mix of internet-based sessions, radio and TV broadcasts, and printed self-learning modules.

She revealed on Friday that she recommended the postponement as early as August 6, citing challenges in the delivery of learning materials and other logistical constraints brought by the imposition of modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and in the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna.

Duterte earlier said face-to-face classes could only resume by January 2021 as COVID-19 continues to grapple the country, with nearly 158,000 infected to date.