Duterte changes mind on face-to face classes, only to happen when vaccine becomes available

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 27) — There will be no face-to-face learning until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, President Rodrigo Duterte announced during his fifth State of the Nation Address on Monday.

Duterte backtracked on his previous decision to resume limited face-to-face classes in COVID-19 low-risk areas, saying now that he will not put the lives of students and teachers in danger.

READ: Duterte allows limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas

“Until the COVID-19 vaccine is available, I will not allow the traditional face-to-face teaching or learning,” he said.

Duterte added that he was thinking of resuming classes in January, assuming that a coronavirus vaccine is already in the market by then.

“Life that is lost is lost forever. Education that is delayed can be recovered,” the president said.

He reiterated the need to properly implement online and modular learning among students in lieu of face-to-face teaching until the health crisis is over.

He sidetracked from his prepared speech to say that he had asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to give the Philippines priority access to their vaccines once they become available.

Establish PEN by 2022

Meanwhile, Duterte said he's determined to establish the Department of Education’s Public Education Network (PEN) by the end of his term in 2022.

He said PEN will connect all public schools in the country, especially those in far-flung areas via satellite, energized by solar panels.

“We plan to increase schools with ICT equipment in the coming months. The DepEd is buidling PEN that will connect all public schools and DepEd offices nationwide,” he added.