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Schools opening may be moved to August, DepEd chief Briones says

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Schools opening may be moved to August, DepEd chief Briones says
In this photo taken May 31, 2019, students greet each other during a school opening simulation at the Commonwealth High School in Quezon City.
The STAR / Boy Santos, File

MANILA, Philippines — Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Tuesday said they are leaning towards opening schools on August 4 due to restrictions placed in the country to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking at CNN’s The Source, Briones said DepEd has been conducting nationwide consultations including with business partners and education experts on when school year will start in 2020.

“The leaning is towards August 4 opening,” she said.

The Education chief explained that the law holds that opening of classes should be made between the first week of June and the last day of August. This was contained in Republic Act 7977 or the Act on lengthening of School Calendar.

“It looks like the trend is really pointing to August 4,” Briones added in a mix of English and Filipino.

But she stressed that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseaases is still making assessment on enhanced community quarantine guidelines, and its decision will affect DepEd's moves, including on graduation ceremonies that have since been postponed amid lockdown.

Saturday classes, alternative mode of learning eyed

She, however, raised that they are “concerned” with ending the school year in March, but she noted that they should comply with the requirement of 180 school days.

“We are considering [holding] Saturday classes, but [this will not be] face to face classes,” Briones said adding that learners may do their work at home.

“They do not need to [go to school] so the children will not be bored on Saturdays,” she added.

RA 7977 also provides that the Secretary of Education “may authorize the holding of Saturday classes for elementary and secondary levels for public and private schools.”

On Monday, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan told DZMM that the department is eyeing utilizing information communication technology (ICT) platforms for learners. This can be done through television and radio.

Briones said they are looking into “alternative delivery modes” that do not require face to face interactions among students and teachers. 

The DepEd chief also said that teachers may access DepEd commons, its online education platform for public school teachers and learners.

In a release on April 1, DepEd said it is encouraging the use of DepEd commons for those with “access to internet and equipment such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.”

Classes have been suspended as early as March 10 due to the rising COVID-19 infections in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte also placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine from March 15 to April 30, sending millions of Filipinos to their homes and upending livelihoods.

National tally of COVID-19 cases in the country is at 6,459. 613 have so far recovered from the disease while 428 fatalities have been recorded. — Kristine Joy Patag

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION LEONOR BRIONES NOVEL CORONAVIRUS SCHOOLS OPENING
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