Sara Duterte says August 22 opening of classes final

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·2 min read
DAVAO, MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES - JUNE 19: Sara Duterte speaks to supporters after taking her oath as the next Vice President on June 19, 2022 in Davao, Philippines. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
DAVAO, MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES - JUNE 19: Sara Duterte speaks to supporters after taking her oath as the next Vice President on June 19, 2022 in Davao, Philippines. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

Despite numerous unaddressed concerns from various teachers’ groups, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio said that School Year (SY) 2022-2023 will push through on August 22.

Duterte, in an ambush interview on Thursday (July 14), said: “This has been approved by [President Ferdinand Marcos Jr] … so we will proceed with it.”

Teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines decried DepEd's lack of compassion for scheduling the incoming SY so close to the end of school year 2021-2022, and for lack of proper health measures for teachers and students physically returning to their classes.

Meanwhile, Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) suggested moving the start of SY to September instead, to give teachers more time to rest and prepare for the incoming SY.

“Classes for the [SY] 2021-2022 ended on June 24, but many teachers up until now are required to report to their schools physically,” the group said.

According to DepEd’s highly-criticized Order No. 34, series of 2022, all public and private schools, no matter what the alert level status in their area is, are mandated to implement a five-days-a-week in-person classes starting November 2.

During a “transition period” of August 22 until Oct. 31, schools have the option to already shift to 100% face-to-face (F2F) classes, three days-a-week F2F and two days online learning, or remain at fully online learning.

Duterte also dispelled any allegations of “segregating” children who are vaccinated from the unvaccinated, as the education department lifted the requirement that only vaccinated students will be allowed to attend F2F classes: “We see no problem with the commingling of unvaccinated and vaccinated students in classrooms because when they go outside, they will still commingle.”

As per limiting the number of students per classes, Duterte said that there will be no limit. “We did not put an exact class size because the situation varies in every school,” she said, adding that they’re still working to streamline the process of constructing classrooms to address congestion of students.

But for the ACT, returning to a pre-pandemic class size of 60 to 70 per class with no adequate health protocol, and with the education department absolving itself from accountability and responsibility if a member of the faculty or a student contracts COVID-19, is “a recipe for disaster.”

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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