Classes to start on Aug. 24
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday said the coming school year would open on Aug. 24, laying to rest weeks of speculation about the possibility of classes being postponed until September or even January 2021.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced the date during the government’s Laging Handa press briefing, saying that August had emerged as the overwhelming preference after wide-ranging consultations with parents and other stakeholders.
The date still fell within the period provided for the opening of classes by law, which is any time between the start of June and end of August. Briones said the end of the school year would be on April 30, 2021.
It remained to be seen, however, whether the country’s 28 million K-12 students would attend classes physically, virtually or through a mix of the two in August.
Virtual or physical
“It could be virtual or physical if conditions in the area allow for physical classes,” Briones said.
“Our biggest consideration is to protect the health and the safety and well-being of learners,” she said.
“But at the same time, we want education to continue. We can’t just stop the learning process because of the pandemic, because the youth at home need to continue their studies and acquire knowledge,” she added.
Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan added that schools would not likely shift to purely online learning. DepEd was giving educators a “menu of learning delivery options” that included online and printed materials and the use of different platforms.
Malaluan said schools would have the latitude to decide what options fit best for their students, depending on the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation and access to the internet and gadgets in their areas.
Flexible learning system
The Commission on Higher Education has said a flexible learning system would similarly be in place in colleges and universities, where periodic in-person classes could be supplemented by both online courses and one-on-one consultations with faculty.
Public school teachers will begin working on June 1, the entire month of which will also be the enrollment period for public schools. Malaluan said a survey would be administered during this time to gauge how many students will have difficulty accessing online platforms.
Either way, he acknowledged the coming school year would be radically different from the usual.
DepEd has been hounded by concerns that online learning would exacerbate inequalities in education, with private school students and those in urban areas performing better on average than their public school and rural counterparts even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
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