A PROGRESSIVE lawmaker on Wednesday said he filed a bill allowing the secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) to defer the start of the school year in case of state of emergency or state of calamity.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III filed House Bill (HB). 6797, which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 7797 which provides that the school year should start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.
“There is a growing concern for the safety of the children if classes will resume on August. The rising number of COVID-19 cases and limited testing capacity pose high health risk for the students and the faculty. Immediate resumption of classes may also increase transmission of the virus. It is for these reasons that I am for the deferment of the start of the school year,” Cabochan pointed out.
Cabochan, however, clarified that this should not mean that resumption of classes will depend solely on the development of a vaccine for coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19).
“This does not mean that we will just wait until a vaccine will be developed. The deferment of the start of the school year is in view of the present conditions that would make the immediate resumption of classes risky. Moreover, experts have also suggested that suspension of classes for the meantime could help in slowing down the spread of the virus,” Cabochan stressed.
The bill also provides for qualifying examinations that would determine if the student could accelerate to the next year level if the state of emergency or state of calamity is prolonged.
“I recognize the capability of some schools to proceed with the classes through online learning. Private schools that have enrollees and are able to provide purely online learning may be given the option to proceed,” Cabochan said.
“However, not all students have resources for online learning, as what the case is in both private and public schools. To address this, I am also proposing that there be qualifying exams for acceleration for students who are not able to attend online classes,” Cabochan added.
As for public school teachers that will be affected by the deferment of the start of the school year, Cabochan said that this would be an opportune time to reconfigure their course materials. Within the duration of the suspension, the Department of Education should also prepare the facilities and resources of schools needed for quality and purely online and distance learning.
Cabochan emphasized the urgency of the matter and urged the House leadership to tackle the legislative measures regarding the opening of classes before the first regular session ends.
“Students, parents, teachers, and schools are very much concerned on how the school year will roll out. I hope the House leadership will immediately hear out the bills and resolutions to address the concerns of all stakeholders on the possible deferment of the start of the school year,” said Cabochan.