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Teachers’ group wait-and-see on school opening

Neil Alcober

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NO face-to-face classes when schoolyear 2020-2021 starts in August.

The school opening for schoolyear 2020-2021 is almost certain on 24 August, but a teachers’ group still considers it as tentative pending the bills in both houses of Congress.

“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 24 August,” Benjo Basas, the group’s national chairperson said, citing statements by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“Things may also change when a bill or any resolution for the postponement of school opening gets the approval of Congress,” Basas added.

“We have seen how our parents, especially those in the poorest section of our society responded on distance learning approach- whether online which will be needing internet connectivity or modular, which necessitates minimal academic skills for parents or guardians. The reality is, we are not prepared or perhaps we need a little more time to prepare,” Basas lamented.

Basas said they welcome the swift action of Congress on several proposals that would grant power to President Duterte or Education Secretary Leonor Briones to determine the date of opening of classes during the times of emergency. Said proposals will amend RA 7797 which strictly sets the date of school opening from June to August.

The TDC found allies in both chambers and from the local government executives. Both the League of Municipalities headed by Mayor Chavit Singson of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur and the League of Provinces headed by Marinduque Governor Presbitero Velasco, Jr. raised their concerns on August 24 school opening. Earlier, Iloilo City mayor Jerry Trenas and his counterpart in Iloilo province Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr. also said they will not support the school opening on said date.

The House Committee on Basic Education chaired by Rep. Roman Romulo called for a public hearing today to tackle several bills revising the school calendar where Basas is expected to participate as one of the resource persons.

“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 or 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 said.

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