President Rodrigo Duterte has thumbed down the proposal to hold pilot face-to-face (F2F) classes in low-risk areas next month but is open to conduct them by August after the government kicks off its vaccination drive this month, Malacañang said on Monday.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte called him on Sunday night to inform him about his decision to reject in-person classes until after vaccination program starts.
“Nagdesisyon na po ang Presidente, wala pa rin po tayong face-to-face classes sa bansa. Tumawag po kagabi ang Presidente sa akin at ang sabi niya ayaw po niya malagay sa panganib o alanganin ang buhay ng ating mag-aaral at mga guro habang wala pa pong nababakunahan sa bansa (The President has made the decision not to hold face-to-face classes in the country. He called me last night and he said that he doesn’t want to put students and teachers at risk while vaccination has yet to start),” he said.
However, he said Duterte expressed openness to hold F2F classes after a small portion of the population has been inoculated with vaccines.
“Sabi niya, may-awa po ang Panginoon, baka naman po pagkatapos natin malunsad ang vaccination program, e pupuwede na tayo mag face-to-face sa Agosto, lalong-lalo dun sa mga lugar na mababa po ang Covid cases (He said, with God;s help, perhaps after we kick off the vaccination program, we can hold face-to-face classes by August, especially in areas with low Covid-19 cases),” he added.
Roque said Duterte personally relayed his preference to hold pilot in-person classes only after the country has established enough confidence six months into the vaccination program.
“I guess what he is anticipating is since we will begin vaccination this month, we will be way ahead of our vaccination in August to give us the confidence to resume at least limited face-to-face education,” he said.
Last month, Duterte allowed the resumption of F2F classes for medical and allied health programs in higher education institutions in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ areas.
Roque said this move is to ensure that the country will have enough doctors amid the prevailing pandemic.
Duterte last December approved the proposal of the Department of Education (DepEd) to hold a dry run of F2F classes in select schools in areas with low-risk of infection.
He eventually withdrew the plan after a new strain of Covid-19, which is allegedly more infectious, has been detected in the United Kingdom (UK) and has already been reported in other neighboring countries.
The National Economic and Development Authority earlier recommended that the government push through with pilot F2F classes next month. (PNA)