Despite the start of the country’s vaccination program against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), President Duterte is still against the idea of allowing in-person classes, saying he cannot risk the lives of the youth.
Duterte made the statement following the arrival of 600,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccines donated by the Chinese government to the Philippines on Sunday, February 28.
In a press conference at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City, Duterte said it was not yet the time to allow kids back to their classrooms.
“Huwag muna ngayon. Not now. It would be — I cannot make that decision. It will place the children in jeopardy,” he said.
“I am not ready to lose the lives of our young people, our children. No,” he added.
On February 22, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that Duterte was firm in his decision to not allow the resumption of face-to-face classes, especially for the basic education curriculum.
“Nagdesisyon na po ang Presidente: Wala pa rin po tayong face-to-face classes sa bansa (The President has decided: There will still be no face-to-face classes in the Philippines),” he said.
“Ayaw po niyang malagay sa panganib o alanganin ang buhay ng ating mga mag-aaral at mga guro habang wala pang nababakunahan sa bansa (He didn’t want to risk the lives of the students and the teachers until no one in the country is vaccinated),” he added.
According to Roque, Duterte thought an August pilot of face-to-face classes was more possible after the country has rolled out the vaccination program especially in areas with a low number of COVID-19 cases.
“I guess what he is anticipating is that since we will begin vaccination this month, we will be way ahead of our vaccination program in August to give us the confidence to resume at least limited face-to-face education,” he said.
President Duterte thumbed down the proposal to have face-to-face classes last year, fearing the spread of COVID-19. Students have been under modular and virtual learning since the start of School Year 2020-2021.
Last week, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that it was the overwhelming sentiment of students to resume the face-to-face classes.