The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) commends the action of both Houses of Congress to the bill that seeks to empower the president to set the opening of classes beyond August. The bill will amend a certain provision of RA 7797 which limits the opening of classes between the first Monday of June to the last day of August.
Last Monday, May 26, both the Senate Committees on Basic and Higher Education approved the consolidated version of several bills into SB 1541, while on Saturday, May 31, the counterpart committees in the lower house approved its own version, the HB 6895.
“The swift action of both Houses of Congress is commendable, our legislators understand the importance and urgency of this policy. We hope that it will soon be signed into law so the President may alter the school opening for SY 2020-2021 beyond August if necessary. If not, then the law will still be relevant. We cannot see the future, anyway,” said Benjo Basas, the group’s national chairperson.
The TDC earlier raised concerns on the preparedness of DepEd to facilitate virtual or distance education citing sentiments from the parents and even some teachers. But the group says that teachers are willing to work for whatever mode is possible and necessary after the DepEd assured the public that face to face learning is not an option for this school year.
“While the President gives his go signal for a blended’ schooling, this will only be finalized when the public is assured of the capacity of the system for remote learning and after the scientific assessment of COVID-19 situation in the country prior to August 24,” Basas, who participated in House hearing last week said.
The bill if signed into law will maintain the preference for the current school calendar but would empower the President, upon the recommendation of the DepEd Secretary to set a different date for the start of the school year in the country of parts of it.
“In the event that Congress approves this proposal, it would not necessarily stop the scheduled school opening on August, but rather it would give prerogative to the President of the Education Secretary to decide on the date of school opening for future emergencies or any fortuitous event that would make schooling impractical. With or without this pandemic, the law would still be relevant,” Basas ended.
The TDC, citing studies from UP Resilience Institute that the safe school opening is after December 2020 and the obvious lack of infrastructure and capacity of school system for distance learning agreed that the school year 2020-2021 opening may be moved to January 2021.
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