Private school groups seek clarification on delayed school opening

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) – Private school groups sought clarification from the Department of Education (DepEd) if private schools are included in the order to defer the school opening to October 5.

The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) said the private education sector is ready for the previous August 24 opening of the new school year with various teaching and learning delivery methods on hand to replace traditional face-to-face classes.

“Our preparations for remote learning have been motivated by our desire to resume school operations for the benefit of our learners and also the welfare of around 300,000 teachers and other personnel who are at risk of being laid off from work or work without pay should the school opening be pushed anew to October 5,” COCOPEA said in a statement.

COCOPEA managing director Joseph Noel Estrada said that more than half of their members have started their classes, while others are expected to begin this month. COCOPEA represents 2,500 private schools nationwide.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) said its members previously submitted to DepEd their learning continuity plans, health and safety protocols, and school calendar.

Given their compliance with the submission of those requirements, CEAP appealed to DepEd that the revised school opening on October 5 should only be applied to public schools.

COCOPEA asked the government to give private schools the discretion to adopt their own calendar, arguing this is allowed under Republic Act No. 7797.

COCOPEA also appealed to DepEd to offer the private education sector’s online and distance education resources to public schools to hasten their readiness in the upcoming school year.

In a media briefing on Friday, Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced President Rodrigo Duterte approved her recommendation to move the school year opening from August 24 to October 5 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Briones cited logistical limitations brought by the imposition of modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and in the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna in proposing for the six-week postponement of school opening.

Although private schools are also under DepEd's regulation, the government will not stop those that have already started their classes, the DepEd chief said.