President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law allowing him to move the opening of classes to a later date in the event of a state of emergency or calamity.

Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 11480 on Friday, July 17. It amends RA 7797 or “An Act to Lengthen the School Calendar from 200 Days to Not More Than 220 Class Days,” which states that the school year must start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

The law allows the president to set a different date for the opening of classes in the country or specific areas in case of a state of emergency or calamity, upon the recommendation of the education secretary.

The education secretary must take into consideration the Christmas and summer vacations, and the “peculiar circumstances of each region,” the law states.

The education secretary may also authorize the holding of Saturday classes for elementary and secondary levels for public and private schools.

Malacañang said the upcoming school year, slated to open on Aug. 24, would commence as scheduled unless the Department of Education recommends its postponement.

“Ang desisyon po ngayon ay Aug. 24. Unless magkaroon po ng rekomendasyon ang ating secretary of education, baka hindi po mabago iyong school opening,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones previously asserted that the opening of classes in public schools would proceed on Aug. 24 “in whatever form.”

The text of the new law was released on Monday, July 20. It will take effect 15 days from publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation. John Ezekiel J. Hirro