Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte tersely announced late Monday that he does not favor the opening of school classes until a potent vaccine against the coronavirus disease is already available.

“I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit iyang mga bata na ‘yan. Bahala na hindi na makatapos… Unless I am sure that they are really safe… Para sa akin, bakuna muna,” the President stressed in his weekly public address Monday night.

“Wala na munang ga-graduate this year” if the contagion is still out there the President said, adding that “it is useless to talk about the opening of new school year amid the still increasing number of new cases in the country.

“Wala nang aral, laro nalang muna unless I’m sure that they are really safe,” Duterte said.

The Department of Education has already announced last April 30 that the next school year will officially open on August 24 and end on April 30, 2021.

However, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said resumption of classes may not require full physical attendance to all students because online learning is now also available as an option.

For his part, Senator Win Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate basic education committee, said the government may have to “adjust accordingly” if the COVID-19 situation in the country does not improve by then.

“August 24 is still three months away from now. Meron pa tayong time to evaluate the situation (We still have time to evaluate the situation),” Gatchalian said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday.

Some lawmakers also favor the postponement of class openings until or unless a vaccine against COVID-19 is available.

“The (DepEd) should postpone the resumption of classes this year instead of resorting to virtual classrooms which would only prejudice students who are not equipped with e-learning gadgets and could not afford to have any internet connection,” Ang Probinsyano Party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong said in a statement.

At present, PH has 14,319 COVID-19 confirmed cases including 873 deaths and 3,323 recoveries. (ia/

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