MANILA - Officials of private schools were surprised after the Department of Education (DepEd) announced Friday that the opening of classes has been moved to Oct. 5 from Aug. 24, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) in a statement said the private school sector "is ready" for opening as the Philippine education system shifts to distance learning.
"The COVID-19 pandemic inspired innovation within the private education sector. Teachers, administrators and other school personnel sought different innovative approaches to support learners' education continuity," COCOPEA said, stressing private schools "remained steadfast" in preparing for the initial opening on Aug. 24.
"In fact, many private schools have already opened their school year since July 2020."
The council asked DepEd to clarify if private schools are required to delay their academic year opening, after the department raised implications of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and nearby urban hubs on preparations for the new school year.
COCOPEA pointed out that under RA 7797, as amended by RA 11480, private schools have "the flexibility to adopt [their] own school calendar within the period allowed by law."
"With this announcement of deferment, this may give some private schools the option to further move their school opening to any date but not beyond October 5, while some schools continue with their school opening this August," it said.
COCOPEA appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to allow private schools to open as initially scheduled.
Duterte approved the deferment, Education Sec. Leonor Briones said earlier.
"We are ready to deliver education with compromising the health and safety of our learners and school personnel and without diminishing the government's plan to suppress and control transmission of the virus," COCOPEA said.
Briones said private schools that have already started their classes will be allowed to continue.
Several groups and lawmakers earlier called on DepEd to delay the opening of classes as more time is needed to prepare to transition to distance learning.