President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into a law a bill that allows moving the date of school opening amid a state of emergency or calamity.
Republic Act No. 11480— approved on July 17 but released to the public on Monday— amends Republic Act No. 7797, which states that the opening of classes should be between the first Monday of June and the last day of August.
In the event of a declaration of state of emergency or calamity, the chief executive, upon the recommendation of the Education Secretary, “may set a different date for the start of the school year in the country or parts thereof,” according to the new law.
Under the measure, the Education Secretary may also determine the end of the regular school year, and may authorize the holding of Saturday classes for elementary and secondary levels of both public and private schools.
Malacanang also pointed out that the measure will give the needed leeway to act on certain emergencies like the pandemic.
“Nagbibigay lang ito ng flexibility kung kailan talaga magbubukas ang klase. Ang desisyon ngayon ay August 24, unless magkakaroon ng rekomendasyon ang ating Secretary of Education, baka hindi po mabago ang school opening,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
[Translation: It only gives flexibility on when to open the classes. The current decision is to open on August 24, unless the Secretary of Education would have another recommendation, the class opening will still push through on the said date.]
The agency set school opening on August 24 using blended learning methods in place of face-to-face classes.
Current DepEd chief Leonor Briones, for her part, thanked the President and lawmakers for the swift and timely passage of the measure.
“The Department has been consulted and has conferred with the President and the legislators throughout the process and we will issue the corresponding implementing rules and regulations soonest as required by the law,” Briones said in a statement.