Duterte opposes opening of classes without vaccine vs. COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he does not favor the opening of school classes until there is an available vaccine against the coronavirus disease.

"I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit iyang mga bata na ‘yan. Bahala na hindi na makatapos... Unless I am sure that they are really safe... Para sa akin, bakuna muna," Duterte said in his weekly public address taped on Monday night.

[Translation: I will not allow the opening of classes where the kids will be beside each other. No one will go to school unless I am sure they are really safe. There has to be a vaccine first.]

The President added it is useless to talk about the opening of new school year due to the magnitude of the virus in the country.

Wala nang aral, laro nalang, unless I'm sure that they are really safe,” Duterte noted.

[Translation: No more classes, only play time, unless I'm sure that they are really safe.]

The Department of Education announced last April 30 that the next school year will officially open on August 24 and end on April 30, 2021.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the resumption of classes does not require full physical attendance of students, stressing that online learning is still a viable option.

Senator Win Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate basic education committee, noted that the government may have to "adjust accordingly" if the COVID-19 situation in the country does not improve by then.

"August 24 is still three months away from now. Meron pa tayong time to evaluate the situation (We still have time to evaluate the situation)," Gatchalian said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source yesterday.

Some lawmakers pushed for the postponement of class openings until and unless a vaccine against COVID-19 is developed.

"The (DepEd) should postpone the resumption of classes this year instead of resorting to virtual classrooms which would only prejudice students who are not equipped with e-learning gadgets and could not afford to have any internet connection," Ang Probinsyano Party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong said in a statement.

To date, the country has confirmed 14,319 COVID-19 cases along with 873 deaths and 3,323 recoveries.