Duterte rejects resumption of face-to-face classes until everyone is vaccinated

Published June 21, 2021, 11:23 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte is still opposed to the resumption of face-to-face classes for now especially in the wake of threats from the contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on June 21, 2021. (Malacañang)

The President expressed preference that all Filipinos should be vaccinated against the virus before he decides on allowing the students to physically return to schools.

“Yung face-to-face, we might differ in our opinions about the matter for as long as there is really no vaccination (of) all,” he told Education Secretary Leonor Briones during a public address Monday, June 21.

In rejecting the return of in-person classes, Duterte explained that he was seeking to protect the health of students from the coronavirus threat.

“Dito sa face-to-face, I think I am not inclined to agree with you. I’m sorry but mahirap (but it’s difficult). I cannot gamble on the health of the children. I hope you’d understand,” he informed Briones.

Duterte said the vaccination of the people will depend on the supplies that will be secured by vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. He assured the public that the government has ample funds for vaccine procurement based on the recent report of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) head Karl Kendrick Chua recently proposed to resume the pilot testing of face-to-face classes in lowest-risk areas amid the government’s ongoing vaccination. Chua expressed concern that there might be long-term impact on learning and productivity if face-to-face classes are not resumed soon.

The President earlier said he may allow in-person classes when the vaccination drive begins. But last February, he still ruled out the resumption of such classes, saying he was “not ready to lose the lives of our young people.”

To ensure the safety and health of students amid the coronavirus pandemic, the government suspended face-to-face or in-person classes and instead promoted alternative learning methods since last year. Instead of physically going to schools, the students attend classes through distance learning methods such as online, printed modules, or radio and television-based instruction.