PRESIDENT Duterte has rejected the latest proposal to resume the pilot testing of face-to-face classes, preferring to wait for the rollout of the mass immunization program against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before some students are allowed to return to school, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.
“Nag-desisyon na po ang Presidente, wala pa rin po tayong face-to-face classes sa bansa (The President has decided that we will still not hold face-to-face classes),” Roque said.
He said Duterte does not want to endanger the lives of the students as well as the teachers and other school officials by having them return to school without the benefit of a vaccine.
There is no vaccine yet tailored for children or individuals aged below 16.
The country has also yet to receive the first batch of vaccine deliveries. The government is buying 148 million doses of vaccines to inoculate 50 million to 70 million Filipinos this year.
The Department of Education (DepEd) was set to present to the Cabinet meeting on Monday night a proposal to resume the pilot testing of face-to-face classes in more than 1,000 schools located in areas with no cases or low risks of COVID-19. The initial plan was set for January but Duterte postponed it due to the new strain of COVID-19 discovered.
DepEd was also set to present a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that the Philippines remains the only country in Southeast Asia that has not resumed face-to-face classes, and survey results showed that more than 50 percent of students want to return to school.
“Sabi niya (President), may awa naman po ang Panginoon, baka naman po pagkatapos natin malunsad ang ating vaccination program, pupuwede na tayong mag face-to-face sa Agusto lalong-lalo na sa lugar na mababa ang COVID cases (He said that God has mercy, and that we might be allowed to hold face-to-face classes by August after the vaccine rollout, especially in places where there are low cases of COVID),” Roque said.
He said the DepEd proposal only covers elementary and high school students.
He said the government, under the Commission on Higher Education, already allows face-to-face classes of medical and allied health courses.