Senate OKs bill authorizing president to postpone opening of classes beyond August

The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill that would authorize the President to postpone the opening of classes beyond August.

Voting 23-0, the chamber approved during its “hybrid” session Senate Bill No. 1541, which seeks to amend Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) 7797 or “An Act to Lengthen the School Calendar from Two Hundred (200) Days to Not More Than Two Hundred Twenty (220) Class Days.”

The law originally mandates the start of the school year from the first Monday of June to the last day of August.

“The immediate effect of this legislation would be to empower the President to move the start of the School Year 2020-2021 to September or even later in the event that public health authorities would recommend the postponement of the school year in order to contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said in a statement following the approval of the bill.

Should the measure be enacted into law before the scheduled opening of classes on August 24, the President and the Department of Education (DepEd) “would have more flexibility to start the school year if COVID-19 cases would continue to surge and threaten the safety of learners, teachers, and non-teaching personnel,” Gatchalian noted.

The bill, which is a substitute measure consolidating proposals by Senators Joel Villanueva, Francis Tolentino, and Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, covers all basic education institutions, including foreign or international schools.

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