Pilot face-to-face classes in MGCQ areas mulled; Duterte confidence is key — Roque

Published August 26, 2021, 4:59 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Philippines is “on its way” to conducting pilot face-to-face classes in schools within areas with low number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, including locations under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

(Ali Vicoy/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave this assurance Thursday, Aug. 26, although he also asked the public to let President Duterte gain confidence as far as the move is concerned.

“Baka i-consider na niya [Duterte] ang pilot [face-to-face classes] at least kapag marami na ang nabakunahan; at sa Metro Manila po, papunta na tayo sa 50 percent [fully-vaccinated] (He might consider pilot face-to-face classes at least if more people get vaccinated, and in Metro Manila we are on the way to being 50 percent fully-vaccinated),” he said during a virtual press briefing on Thursday, Aug. 26.

“Kinakailangan humabol iyong mga ibang rehiyon dahil outside of Metro Manila, ang pinakamataas na pong porsiyento na nabakunahan ay diyan po sa CAR [Cordillera Administrative Region]. Pero papunta na po tayo roon dahil mayroon naman talagang mga lugar na napakatagal ng MGCQ (Other regions need to catch up, the region with the highest percentage of vaccinations outside of Metro Manila is CAR. But we are on the way there because there have been areas that have long been under MGCQ,” Roque said.

An MGCQ is the least restrictive quarantine classification in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So baka pupuwede po doon sa mga lugar na iyon [ang pilot face-to-face classes], pero hayaan po muna nating magkaroon ng kumpiyansa ang ating Presidente na hayaan ito dahil ang Presidente po mismo ay ang ama at lolo ng mga nag-aaral sa mababang paaralan (So pilot face-to-face classes could be held there, but we should let the President gain confidence with it since he acts as both the father and grandfather of elementary school students),” Roque said.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has said that the Philippines is one of just five countries in the world that have not started in-person or face-to-face classes since the pandemic began, affecting the right to learn of more than 27 million Filipino students. The other countries are Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Venezuela.

Filipino pupils haven’t had face-to-face classes since February 2020, or a month when COVID-19 was first detected in the country. UNICEF has suggested a way-forward to address the issue.

Asked about when formal face-to-face classes could restart, Roque said: “Sang-ayon sa batas ang Presidente po magdidesisyon at inaantay naman po ng ating Department of Education [DepEd] ang pagsang-ayon ng ating Presidente para mag-conduct ng pilot face-to-face classes (According to law, it’s the President who will decide when and the Department of Education is now waiting for the President’s go signal for the conduct of pilot face-to-face classes).”

He said the conduct of such pilot classes will also depend on the classification risk imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on a given area, the approval of the local government unit (LGU) concerned, and the state of the economy.

The Philippines has yet to roll out vaccines on children.