Senate approves on third reading bill allowing start of classes beyond August

(Eagle News) — The Senate on Monday, June 1, approved on third and final reading a measure that seeks to give President Rodrigo Duterte the authority to reschedule the opening of classes to any date beyond August.

Senate Bill No. 1541, which consolidates the proposals filed by Senators Joel Villanueva, Francis Tolentino, and Senate President Tito Sotto, seeks to amend Section 3 of Republic Act 7797 which  specifically states that the start of the school year be between the first Monday of June and the last day of August.

If passed into law, the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Education, can defer the start of the school year beyond August during a state of emergency or calamity.

The bill covers all basic education institutions, including foreign or international schools.

“Mahalaga ang pagpasok sa eskuwelahan ng mga bata, pero higit na mahalaga ang kanilang kaligtasan at kalusugan. Kaya bigyan po natin ng pagpapasya ang Pangulo ng Pilipinas at ang Kalihim ng Edukasyon upang baguhin ang petsa ng pasukan sa panahon ng pandemya habang walang kasiguraduhan sa kaligtasan at kalusugan ng kabataang Pilipino,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, co-author and sponsor of the bill, said.

Earlier, the House of Representatives committees on basic education and culture, and on higher and technical education approved a similar bill.

This was days after President Duterte said it was “useless” to talk about an opening of classes without a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Palace later said the President meant no face-to-face classes shall take place without the vaccine, amid fears for the safety of students.

The remote enrollment of students in public schools kicked off on Monday, June 1, with the DepEd saying there shall be absolutely no physical contact in the first two weeks.

The DepEd said after those two weeks, physical contact for enrollment is allowed but only upon the approval of the local government unit in question.