Duterte go signal for pilot face-to-face classes still being awaited

Malacañang has yet to give the go signal for the conduct of pilot face-to-face classes amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday, Sept. 13.

Teacher Pauline Marie Marasigan-Romero of Rafael Palma Elementary School prepares her online learning tools inside her home in Manila on Sunday, Sept.12, 2021.(Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Roque made this clarification even as he said that President Duterte gave a "positive reaction" to the presentation of Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones over the weekend regarding the proposed pilot classes.

According to Roque, Briones made the presentation on Friday night, Sept. 10 during the President's public briefing. However, the presentation didn't make the cut for the taped version of the briefing that was shown to the public the following morning.

"Hindi po naipakita sa 'Talk to the People' yan pero nag-report po si Sec. Briones kay Presidente at si Presidente naman po ay positive ang kanyang reaksyon doon sa possibility na magkakaroon po tayo ng pilot on a very limited basis (This wasn't shown during the 'Talk to the People' but Sec. Briones made a report to the President and the President had a positive reaction to the possibility of having pilot classes on a very limited basis)," he said.

"Kung hindi po ako nagkakamali, mga 150 schools lang po ang ating pilot doon sa mga lugar po na kakaunti talaga ang kaso ng COVID. Pero antayin po natin ang final decision...so kumbaga, naghahanda po tayo sa pilot pero wala pang actual go signal.(If I'm not mistaken, about 150 pilot schools have been identified in places where COVID cases are low. But let's wait for the final decision...in other words, we're preparing for the pilot but we still don't have the actual go signal)," noted the spokesperson.

Monday also marked the resumption of distance learning in Philippine public schools.

Last week, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported that the Philippines and Venezuela are the last two countries in the world that have yet to reopen schools for face-to-face classes since the emergence of COVID-19 last year.

Roque said late last month that the President's confidence on the safety of students was a a huge factor on whether or not he would greenlight face-to-face classes on a pilot basis.

"Ang masasabi ko lang, positive naman po ang reaksyon ni Presidente provided na limited ang pilot at talagang doon sa mga lugar na mababa ang bilang ng COVID (What I can say is, the President had a positive reaction to it provided that the pilot classes would be limited to areas where COVID incidence is low)," Roque added Monday.