DepEd withdraws request to resume face-to-face classes after Duterte’s rejection

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 22) -- Secretary Leonor Briones has withdrawn the request of the Department of Education to resume limited face-to-face classes in the basic education level after President Rodrigo Duterte rejected the proposal.

Duterte on Monday said physical classes will not resume until everyone in the country is vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Dito sa face-to-face (About the face-to-face classes), I think I am not inclined to agree with you. I’m sorry, I cannot gamble on the health of the children,” he said during his weekly televised address.

Briones said she respects the decision: “We are withdrawing our request in the light of your decision and we fully accept your decision, which is a very well-informed decision.”

The DepEd always relies on the Department of Health and the “wisdom” of the President, said Briones.

Duterte has already thumbed down last February the proposed trials of limited face-to-face classes, citing that the national vaccination drive had yet to be launched.

Briones added that the DepEd has initially identified 1,900 schools which may qualify to conduct limited face-to-face classes.

“We kept on bringing it down and now, even a hundred but listening to the briefing and listening to your decision, we don’t have any reservations because we all know the effects,” she said.

Briones said that the DepEd will take into consideration the health of 27 million children and over 800,000 teachers. She added that the agency has been preparing if ever the national government orders the physical opening of schools.

“We are talking about 27 million children and 847,000 teachers […] If things get better, if the numbers are flattened, and if there is more hope, then if you say ‘open the schools,’ then we will open the schools,” she responded.

Meanwhile, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. also said on Monday night that children in the country may soon get vaccinated in the second half of the year after the government’s procurement of at least 40 million doses of vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech.