Reverting to old school calendar can’t be rushed – DepEd

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
Reverting to old school calendar can�t be rushed � DepEd
Students line up to enter Araullo High School in Manila on January 15, 2024.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Even after a week of suspended onsite classes due to extreme heat, the Department of Education cannot immediately shift to the old school calendar as it takes away rest days from teachers, students and school personnel, Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte said yesterday.

Responding to calls from teachers’ groups to yank out the plans for a phased transition to the old June-March school calendar, Duterte said it is not feasible to immediately start classes in June this coming school year (SY) 2024-2025.

“First of all, the (decision for a phased transition) underwent consultations. Second, we cannot compromise the rest days of our teachers and learners, and we cannot (end this school year and immediately start the next) because everyone needs rest,” Duterte told reporters.

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) earlier said that the reversion to the old academic calendar – where classes run from June to March and school break from April to May – seemed feasible starting this coming SY 2024-2025.

TDC added that there is still time for the DepEd to adjust the calendar for SY 2024-2025 so that classes do not extend to April and May, which are the hottest months of the year.

If shortening the vacation of teachers to prepare for a possible earlier date of opening of classes cannot be avoided, the DepEd must provide them necessary compensation such as additional service credits convertible to vacation leave or extra pay, according to TDC.

Various groups earlier called for the return to the old school calendar, citing the heat experienced by students during March and April.

Even lawmakers sought to intervene by filing proposals to shift to the old calendar, stressing that the current school calendar running from August to June is inappropriate in the country.

The DepEd is currently implementing measures to return to the old school calendar, but the transition would only fully take hold in 2026 or three school years from now.

Since Monday last week, onsite classes in thousands of public schools nationwide have been suspended because of unbearable classroom conditions due to extreme heat experienced by students and teachers.

Last Friday, the number of schools that suspended onsite classes has climbed to 5,288, with over 3.6 million public school students affected.

The DepEd has since instructed schools to implement alternative delivery modes should the harsh heat render classroom instruction even more unbearable for students and teachers.

Alternative modes

As high heat indices are being recorded across the country, the Department of Health (DOH) has suggested alternative methods of learning for students.

If face-to-face classes will be difficult for students given the extremely hot temperature, schools can adopt other ways of holding classes, according to Health Secretary Ted Herbosa.

“It could be online or Zoom classes. It could be a blended form of learning, or asynchronous,” Herbosa said in a televised briefing yesterday.

He added that it depends on the school environment. — Rhodina Villanueva

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