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DepEd order ends school year in May, reverts to old calendar

Maricel Cruz

The Department of Education (DepEd) has released a new order amending its calendar for school year 2023-2024, recognizing the clamor to revert the schedule of classes back to pre-pandemic times.

Classes in public elementary, junior, and senior high schools (SHS) will now end by May 31 (Friday) under its revised Department Order 003 dated Feb. 19 and signed by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte.

The summer break is now scheduled from June 1 to July 26. School Year 2024-2025 will start on July 29 and will end on May 16, 2025.

The department also adjusted the schedule of school activities, with third quarter examinations to be held on March 25-26 and fourth quarter examinations on May 16-17.

National school activities will also be held on the following dates: Palarong Pambansa: July 6-17, 2024; National Festival of Talents: July 9-13, 2024; National Schools Press Conference: July 9-13, 2024; Learners’ Convergence: July 9-15, 2024.

DepEd earlier said it has drafted guidelines for reverting to the old June-to-March school calendar by the school year 2028-2029 following proposals from education stakeholders.

It also said the gradual shift is to avoid disruption of school days.

The order was a result of the clamor of teachers, students, and parents, said House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro.

“It is good that a dialogue consultation was arranged to iron out the details of the shift and that the DepEd has now issued the order to end school year 2023-2024 by May 31, 2024 and start school year 2024-2025 by July 29,2024 and end by May 16, 2025,” she said in a statement.

“As it is, though, the El Niño is now in its mature phase and the heat in classrooms are increasing. We hope that mitigating measures to reduce the inconvenience of teachers and students are now in place so that classrooms are still conducive to learning,” Castro added.

DepEd spokesperson Undersecretary Michael Poa explained the adjustmentwill pave the way for the “slow” return of the pre-pandemic school calendar.

“The school days of our learners will be compromised if we fast-track the shifting, and it will be difficult for our teachers to teach allthe competencies. So, as you can see, the shift of our school calendar back to the usual April-May break will be gradual,” he said.

Poa said there will still be 179 school days for the current academicyear, meaning the number of lessened school days was “not that significant.”

Based on DepEd’s projections, he said the April school break may begin starting the end of school year 2026-2027.

“We are looking at around 2026-2027, by April 2, as the last day ofclass. So, we’re pretty much there. If you want to go back to March, I think it will be more on SY 2027-2028,” he added.

Poa earlier said it would take at least three years before the school break returns to April-May.

DO 003 also emphasized that non-voluntary or mandatory tasks or activities must be given to teachers amid the break from June 1-30.

“Even though we are already making adjustments to shift back, weensure that the 30 days of break are still there from June 1-30. We cannot give voluntary or mandatory activities or tasks to our teachers during this time so they can rest,” Poa said.

DepEd said the decision was made with “resounding consensus” fromteachers, learners, and relevant stakeholders. It is also consistent with the findings of a study conducted by the Philippine Normal University (PNU).

The amended school calendar was also in line with the MATATAG agenda of Vice President Duterte to “take good care of learners” by promotingtheir well-being through inclusive education and a positive learningenvironment.

Duterte also told reporters in an interview Tuesday that her department intends to conduct pilot implementation of the revised curriculum for Grades 11 and 12 students by next academic year (2025-2026).

Currently, she said DepEd is still gathering inputs from the businesscommunity regarding the skills they want SHS graduates to have to increase their chances of employability.

“Because we are still reviewing the senior high school curriculum forGrades 11 and 12, it is important to get their [business community’s]input in terms of the skills that they want senior high school or K-to-12 graduates to have because the intent, the vision of the K-to-12 program is that after they finish basic education, they can work right away or are already employable,” she said.

Various groups requested a review on the current school calendar asmany students and teachers complained of hot weather inside schools, especially during the summer season.

Reform group Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality, and Relevant Education said in January that the weather is just one factor in fixing the education system.

Dr. Lizamarie Olegario, the group’s head of research, noted the lack of classrooms and facilities such as electric fans, which led to fainting spells by schoolchildren in the heat of summer.

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