Bill allowing Duterte to move class opening beyond August passes Congress

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 4) — The House of Representatives voted unanimously on Thursday to pass a bill allowing President Rodrigo Duterte to move the opening of classes beyond August 2020.

Voting 241 with no opposition or abstention, House Bill 6895 was approved to amend Section 3 of Republic Act No. 7791 or the "act to lengthen the school calendar from 200 days to not more than 220 class days."

The bill mandates that Duterte can set a different date for the start of the school year in the event of a declaration of a state of emergency or state of calamity, and that the deferment of the start of the school year in such instances shall apply to "all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools."

Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier said classes will open on August 24, 2020. However, she said this does not mean elementary and high school students will physically return to schools.

She said classes can be conducted online, until the government allows the reopening of school buildings, which were temporarily closed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease.

However, Senator Win Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, told CNN Philippines that the government may have to "adjust accordingly" if the COVID-19 situation in the country does not improve by then.