Should DepEd revert to old school calendar?

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor  

The top officials of Iloilo have a different view on the idea of reverting to the old school calendar or the April-May school break of the Department of Education (DepEd) amid the extreme heat caused by the El Niño phenomenon and dry season.

For City Mayor Jerry Treñas, the sweltering heat during the summer months clearly justifies the need to move the opening of classes from June to March each year.

“The temperature is increasing each year. Hopefully, a decision can finally be made on the transfer of the school year soon,” he added.

It can be noted that the city government of Iloilo suspended the classes in the basic education program on April 1 following a 41 degrees Celsius heat index forecast by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Meanwhile, Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. suggested that the matter should be studied, acknowledging that DepEd has reasons for shifting the opening of classes to August.

“We have to review it because if we have changes in the school calendar, we have reasons. After a while, we revise the reason and we revisit the policy,” he said.

As mandated by Republic Act 7797, DepEd’s traditional academic school year follows a June-March schedule, but amendments were made in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

“Right now, we have to respect the reasons why it was moved to August and that is to lessen the impact of the rainy season on our learners and teaching personnel. I think that is a sound reason for now,” he said.

As for the suspension of classes, Defensor clarified that the provincial government cannot declare a province-wide suspension and that only local government units have the authority to do so based on ground conditions.

“The suspension of classes is at the level of our municipalities. Our mayors determine if there are conditions, based on our regulations,that need suspension of classes. Our mayors are in the best position to decide for that,” he explained.

He further stressed that the suspension of classes has to be “localized,” citing the 42 towns and one component city under the provincial government’s jurisdiction.

“Our towns have a different situation or circumstance from the others,” he added.

The local government of Dumangas suspended in-person classes on Monday, affecting 35 schools and a total of 14,717 learners.

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