With all 241 House members present voting in the affirmative, the legislative chamber passed on third and final reading on Thursday (June 4) House Bill (HB) No. 6895 that will also extend the school calendar from the current 200 days to 220 by amending Section 3 of Republic Act No. 7797 that provides a school calendar of 200 days.
However, minutes after voting on the measure, the House swiftly adopted a motion for the adoption of Senate Bill (SB) No. 1541 passed unanimously by senators on Monday.
As a result of the motion, the two legislative chambers may now skip bicameral committee proceedings and send the merged bill directly to Malacañang for signing by President Duterte.
The new law may then be applied for the current school calendar that had been disrupted by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Education has recommended moving the school opening from the second week of June to the last week of August to help guarantee the safety of students from COVID-19 infection.
HB 6895 consolidated nine separate legislative measures, including new proposals that were filed recently to address the effect of the pandemic on the previous and current school years.
Among the authors of the bill were Reps. Wes Gatchalian (NPC, Valenzuela City); Michael John Duavit (NPC, Rizal); Eduardo “Bro.Eddie” Villanueva (CIBAC Party-list), and Ann Hofer (PDP-Laban, Zamboanga Sibugay).
Gatchalian said the bill will give the chief executive the flexibility to adjust the opening date of a school year to address a state of emergency or calamity that has disrupted the school year.
“This means that before we open our schools to a very vulnerable sector, we can ensure that they are safe because while the education of our youth is very important, their health is equally vital,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the House committee on trade and industry.
Strongly endorsed for approval by the House committees on higher education and on basic education, HB 6895 directs the Secretary of Education to make recommendations to the President on the setting of a different date for the opening of the school year in the event of a declaration of a state of emergency or state of calamity, such as the prevailing pandemic.
HB 6895 also mandates that the resetting of a school year will apply to all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools operating in the country.