Senators are seeking to postpone the school opening beyond August 2020 as the number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country continue to increase.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Joel Villanueva recently filed similar bills proposing to amend Republic Act No. 7977. Under this law, “the school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.”
Sotto filed Senate Bill No. 1438 on April 27, which aims to move the opening of classes in September or to any month President Rodrigo Duterte would determine.
“This bill…would give the Department of Education (DepEd) more time and opportunity to prepare and adopt measures for the ‘new normal’ of the education system while helping the government fight the COVID-19 outbreak,” Sotto explained.
“Since what we have at the moment is a health emergency, there are no other views more important than the ones from the medical experts, particularly on the matter of preventing, fighting, and eventually, putting an end to this virus. Therefore, the recommendation of the IATF-EID to move the school year to September must necessarily be put into effect,” he added.
School opening after August
Duterte earlier approved the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ recommendation to open the classes for the school year 2020-2021 to September.
The decision was based on a study that showed children and youth aged zero to 20 years old are the possible transmitters of COVID-19, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
“The national government is doing its best to ‘flatten the curve’ and steps are being undertaken based on medical experts’ studies and assessments. We shall take appropriate steps to make education accessible to all,” Sotto said.
Senator Joey Villanueva meanwhile filed Senate Bill No. 1452 which authorizes Secretary of Education to defer the opening is school years during a state of emergency, state of calamity, or similar occurrence.
“This bill will give the Secretary of Education the flexibility to open the school year 2020-2021 any time after August, especially considering that experts from the UP Resilience Institute have pointed out that the suspension of classes until December or the end of the year would be an effective way to limit further COVID-19 infections,” Villanueva said in a statement.