DepEd confirms gradual return to old academic calendar

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
DepEd confirms gradual return to old academic calendar
Students attend a flag-raising ceremony before singing the national anthem on the first day of in-person classes after years-long Covid-19 lockdowns at Pedro Guevarra Elementary School in Manila on August 22, 2022.
AFP / Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — A Department of Education director confirmed on Monday that the department is finalizing changes to its academic calendar, saying that the shift to a June school opening will "happen gradually."

DepEd Director Leila Areola said that the department has drafted an amendment for DepEd Order 22, s. 2023, which refers to the official calendar and schedule of activities for school year 2023-2024.

“For now the move is for us to gradually revert to June,” Areola told House members during a hearing by the basic education committee.

Areola said that the start of classes for school year 2024-2025 may not yet be held in June, but the school years after that may return to a June school opening.

“We already have the working document and for 2029 we know what’s going to happen. For sure we will be reverting to June,” the DepEd official said.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Chairperson Vladimer Quetua said that during DepEd’s recent consultation with stakeholders — which included teachers, parents and students — officials floated a proposed schedule where the current school year (SY 2023-2024) ends May 31.

Quetua said that DepEd is eyeing to schedule the start of classes next school year on July 29 and to hold the opening of classes in succeeding school years in June.

The “gradual revert” to a June class opening requires small adjustments every school year to avoid drastically cutting students’ and teachers’ vacation days, Areola explained.

Quetua said that during DepEd’s consultation with teacher groups, officials offered to triple teachers’ maximum number of service credits from 15 days to 45 in light of the number of vacation days that they will lose to an earlier school opening. 

Areola said that DepEd will officially release the guidelines for the schedule change after the department finishes its consultations with DepEd field staff.

RELATED: DepEd studying proposal to revert to old acad calendar  

Regina Sevilla Sibal of the National Parent Teacher's Association said during the House hearing that they support DepEd's move to revert to a June-March school calendar.

Sibal said that while extreme weather conditions take place during both the wet and dry seasons, schools typically suspend classes during typhoons but do not do the same for days with high temperatures.

A survey among 11,000 teachers by ACT in 2023 found that over 67% of teachers experienced "intolerable heat" in their classrooms during the peak of the dry season in March. This had led to students' waning attention as well as more frequent student absences.

“The conditions in rain — although difficult for learners and teachers — there are budget implications (during) the summer. Schools do not have enough water supply, and there are ventilation and heat concerns,” Sibal added.

“It’s not just a matter of weather but also teacher and student wellbeing, as well as infrastructure and water supply, of which DepEd does not have a sole jurisdiction of providing these for,” she added.

For years, DepEd refused to synchronize its calendar with the new academic calendar in higher education, which the Commission on Higher Education recommended for state universities in 2019 to cover the same period as the government’s fiscal year.

However, DepEd had to delay its class opening in 2020 from June to October when it transitioned to blended learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, it has scheduled class openings in August.

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