• Melo Acuna

President Duterte resets school opening

School opening moved to October 5

MANILA – Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said President Rodrigo Duterte has decided on her recommendation submitted last August 6 to defer the school opening from August 24 to October 5 this year.

In a statement, Secretary Briones said President Duterte’s decision was based on the implications of the imposition of Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and the densely populated Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna and Rizal provinces.

Secretary Briones said according to the memorandum, the Department of Education will move the school opening pursuant to Republic Act 11480.

“We shall use the deferment to provide relief to the logistical limitations faced by the areas placed under MECQ and fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening that we are currently addressing,” she explained.

Areas outside MECQ are directed to continue their orientations, dry runs, and delivery of learning resources so that the Department will be ready for the opening of classes on October 5, according to the statement.

She expressed optimism this would be the final adjustment of the school opening. Secretary Briones said even with the MECQ they will use the time to make the appropriate adjustments and ensue all preparations have been complied with for the successful opening for the School Year 2020-2021.

According to Undersecretary Diosdado M. San Antonio, a total of 23.290 million pupils and students have been affected by the latest announcement. Kindergarten pupils reached 1.625 million while elementary pupils who enrolled totaled 11.352 million while those in junior high school enrollees were 7.326 million while those in the senior high school were 2.570 million.

“Learners with disabilities reached 61,500 while those in Alternative Learning System were 355,200,” Undersecretary San Antonio said.

Meanwhile, former Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC said under normal circumstances, schools should be opened as soon as possible to assure learners and their teachers that a safe and nurturing environment for learning remains.

“The change of date of school opening to October 5 will certainly have a negative impact given the discontinuity of learning for six months from April to August, at least for public schools (since many private schools have already started full online classes),” Bro. Luistro said.

He added if the government is not ready to reassure students and teachers that our schools are safe and ready and that there is sufficient transportation facilities for them, citizens are left with no other choice but to comply.

“I hope that when school reopens on October 5, the systems are in place for our learners to catch up with their lessons,” he concluded.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers party list welcomed the government’s decision to postpone the school opening to a later date. However, they also expressed concern for the government to ensure the delivery of safe, accessible and quality education.

In a statement, the party list said not only the DepEd is expected to attend to resolve the multi-faceted problems that make the school opening this month dangerous to stakeholders’ health and counterproductive to the fulfillment of the people’s right to education.

They called on the government to effectively control the pandemic and address the economic crisis, ensure the safety of schools by filling in the shortage of facilities, personnel and equipment as well as installing comprehensive health protection mechanisms, and the provision of all the needs of the distance learning modalities.

They also called on the Department of Education to “hold genuine consultations to involve the stakeholders in the planning and preparation nof education continuity.

Teachers Dignity Coalition President Benjo Basas said Malacanang’s decision to move the school opening to October 5 only proves the Department of Education’s failure to the different issues.

Basas said they are thankful the government listened to the teachers’ pleas to postpone the school opening to a later date.

“DepEd has all the time to prepare and address the teachers’ and students’ needs. There should be enough budget for internet, laptop and other teachers’ needs as well as health concerns,” Basas concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)

Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones (File Photo from Presidential Communications Operations Office)

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