Senate OKs bill which moves school calendar beyond August during state of emergency

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) - Amid the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, the Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill which gives the President the authority to postpone the opening of classes beyond August during the state of calamity or emergency.

Twenty-three senators approved Senate Bill No. 1541 during Monday’s session, two days before the congressional break.

“The school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August: Provided that in the event of a declaration of a state of emergency or state of calamity, the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Education, may set a different date for the start of the school year,” read the bill.

The measure applies to both private and public elementary schools and high schools in the country.

Although COVID-19 cases continue to rise each day and no vaccine has been found yet, enrollment in public schools began Monday for the upcoming school year, which will formally start on August 24 and end on April 30 next year.

READ: School year 2020-21 to formally begin on August 24, says DepEd chief

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressed his disapproval on opening the classes until a vaccine against the virus is available.

For its part, the Department of Education welcomed the new development.

“We have welcomed the expansion-- the discretion on the school opening, including especially in times of crisis like this," said DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan in a press briefing. "We have stated our positions in those.”

“If it is to give the DOH (Department of Health), the executive, or the President broader discretion in times of emergencies like these, we express no opposition to that,” Malaluan added.

Meanwhile, a similar bill filed at the House of Representatives has been approved on second reading.