Delaying Aug 24 opening of classes to leave public school students at a disadvantage – Nograles

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 14) – Further delaying the opening of classes for public schools may be a bad idea, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Friday.

"'Yung mga concerns namin is some private schools have already started classes. My kids have already started classes and many of the people I know, their children have already begun their classes. If we delay it some more, ang iniiwasan natin na magiging dehado or behind ang ating mga public elementary at high school students," Nograles told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Several teachers' groups have called on the Department of Education to further postpone the August 24 opening of the new school year, while others call for an "academic freeze" and flexible school calendars to accommodate struggling students. However, Education Secretary Leonor Briones stood firm on the starting date of the new academic year, saying the agency has prepared well for the shift to blended learning. 

The new school year will see campuses remain shut as both students and teachers hold lectures through online platforms, TV and radio broadcasts, or printed self-learning modules as the pandemic prohibits face-to-face classes.

RELATED: Robredo seeks budget realignments to help with shift to blended education

Nograles said the issue will be taken up as the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases meets today, where it will also discuss quarantine classifications for the next two weeks. The recommendations for Metro Manila and four nearby provinces which returned to modified enhanced community quarantine will also be tackled.

"It might be more challenging from an educational point of view for them to catch up with private schools. It’s really going to be something DepEd has to assess and see if they are prepared," Nograles added.

"I've heard Secretary Liling (Briones) say they are already prepared to start classes. For us sa IATF, the faster or the sooner we begin classes also, the more chances to ensure that kids are in school."

Senator Bong Go, a close ally and former aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, asked DepEd to push back the opening of classes to October as learners and teachers need more time to prepare and adjust to the COVID-19 context.

"Huwag nating isugal ang buhay at kaligtasan ng ating mga kabataan. Kung hindi pa handa, huwag nating pilitin [Let us not put the lives and safety of our youth at stake. If we're not ready, let's not force it]," Go said in a statement.

Briones has said it's all systems go for DepEd, despite a recent controversy over grammatically incorrect materials which aired during DepEd TV's test runs on IBC 13. There are 23.1 million enrollees as of August 12, with Briones saying students are raring to continue learning.

RELATED: DepEd stands pat on Aug 24 opening of classes: Students want to learn