Duterte rejects proposed resumption of face-to-face classes — Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — President Rodrigo Duterte has thumbed down proposed trials of face-to-face classes as he doesn’t want to risk the lives of teachers and students given the national vaccination drive yet to be launched, the Palace said Monday.

During a virtual briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President told him he didn’t want to endanger learners and educators given that the national vaccination drive has not yet started. The order covers classes under the Education Department’s jurisdiction, namely ones held in elementary and high schools, he added.

Roque likewise said Duterte is open to the conduct of a pilot of face-to-face classes in August especially in areas with low numbers of COVID-19 cases.

“I guess what he is anticipating that since we will begin vaccination this month, we would be way ahead of our vaccination program in August to give us the confidence to resume at least limited face-to-face education,” said the spokesman.

RELATED: Roque: Face-to-face classes, once approved, may only be conducted for few hours

Doses of Chinese firm Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine may arrive in Philippines within three to five days after Monday's announcement by the Food and Drug Administration that it has approved an emergency use authorization for the Chinese-made shots.

Roque expressed hope the delivery will be within the week.

RELATED: FDA OKs emergency use of Sinovac, says China-made vaccines not ideal for frontliners 

Around mid-December last year, Duterte approved the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in January in schools situated in areas tagged as low-risk for COVID-19. However, he recalled his order days after in light of the threat posed by the coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom and reported as more contagious.

The President banned face-to-face classes earlier last year sans the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. Eventually, he allowed ones in medical and health allied health programs offered by higher education institutions in areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ areas.

Basic education classes have resumed in October under blended learning, which combines virtual sessions, radio and TV broadcasts, and printed modules for self-learning.