Philippine Schools Won’t Return to Face-to-Face Class Yet

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, June 28, reiterated that he would not allow students to go back to face-to-face classes despite the start of the vaccination of the country’s educators.

The President made the remarks after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reported the government’s move of symbolically inoculating government workers such as soldiers, policemen, jail as well as fire personnel. Teachers were also included in the symbolic vaccination.

Philippine President Duterte on in-person learning: ‘I cannot gamble on children’s lives’

Secretary Roque said that the vaccination is also part of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) efforts to make teachers get protected against the coronavirus since they are also listed in the government’s priority list for inoculation.

President Duterte said in his weekly public address that although he is in favor of in-person learning and DepEd wants to return regular teaching mode, he still has to protect children from COVID-19, especially with the emergence of a more contagious variant.

“Whatever is convenient or comfortable para sa mga bata nandoon ako. Kaya lang, there is a monkey wrench in that government machinery,” he said.

“Ang monkey wrench niyan is the COVID-19 D. Ngayon lang ‘yan lumabas at lumaganap na doon sa Great Britain pati India, at hindi malayo, baka, dadating dito sa atin.”

Experts said the new mutated version, the SARS-Cov-2 Delta or lineage B.1.617.2, is much more aggressive, more contagious and fatal, than previous COVID-19 variants.

The President apologized to parents for the disruption in their children’s education. “Patawarin lang po ninyo ako kasi hindi ko kayang magbigay ng pahintulot na puwede na silang normal sa eskuwelahan. Kasi kung magkadisgrasyahan, buhay ito.”

“Ang ano nito is delayed lang ang edukasyon ng bata pero it will normalize one of these days. But I cannot gamble, I said, with the life of our children. Mahirap ‘yan kasi ako ang mananagot sa lahat.”

He made similar apology to Education Secretary Leonor Briones for his decision not allow face-to-face classes.

“Let us see what develops in the other countries na mayroon nang epidemic with another ano, hindi pa naman pandemic ‘yan. How it will rollout sa buhay ng isang tao,” he said.

The country has made inroads in its mass vaccinations campaign as more vaccines come in.

During Monday’s meeting with the President, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines had been able to administer at least 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

As of June 28, the Philippines recorded a total of 1,403,588 coronavirus infections, with 52,029 active cases and 24,456 deaths.