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âNo decision yet on school opening dateâ
Education officials referred to a clarification made by National Economic and Development Authority acting director general Karl Chua when asked about the supposed September opening announced by presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
STAR/ File

‘No decision yet on school opening date’

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There is no final decision yet on when schools would reopen in the country, officials clarified yesterday following the announcement of a supposed recommendation to move the opening of classes to September due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Education officials referred to a clarification made by National Economic and Development Authority acting director general Karl Chua when asked about the supposed September opening announced by presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

“I want to clarify… what was presented earlier was only for consideration because that was what came out in our health study,” Chua said during the press briefing in Malacañang.

“Let us wait for the DepEd to present and the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) would say if this is already a policy,” he added.

Republic Act 7797, which sets the prescribed number of school days in the country, allows the start of the school year anytime between the first Monday of June to the last day of August.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said they would present their recommendations by the first week of May.

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman J. Prospero de Vera III said they will also present their position to the IATF.

Various positions have been made regarding the opening of classes.

The Department of Education (DepEd) said responses in the broad consultations that they are doing “favor any day in August as the preferred opening of the school year.”

A team of experts from the University of the Philippines, meanwhile, suggested suspending classes involving physical interaction until December to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

De Vera described the proposal as irresponsible, saying any decision must take into account the different situations on the ground.

“To arbitrarily say there should be no classes until December 2020 and impose this policy even in areas that are COVID-free or where the number of persons under monitoring or investigation is small is irresponsible,” said De Vera.

“Government must consider the economic impact of this proposal on the 1,600+ private universities that will not operate for half a year while continuing to pay the salaries of their faculty, employees and maintain their facilities,” he added.

For its part, the DepEd said any decision that would be made will have the health, safety and wellbeing of parents, teachers and other stakeholders as prime consideration.

“We are accelerating the preparation of our Learning Continuity Plan, preparing benefits for our teaching and non-teaching staff, ensuring the readiness and cleanliness of our school infrastructure and developing alternative delivery modes of learning,” said Briones.

Related video:

COVID-19 HARRY ROQUE
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