MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte may be open to further discussion on the possibility of allowing face-to-face (F2F) classes in areas with zero cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this comment after Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera disclosed that they are studying the possibility of allowing limited F2F classes in Covid-19-free areas.

“I am sure the President is open to further discussion on the possibility of face-to-face pero uulitin ko po, habang may banta ang Covid sa isang lugar eh out of the question po iyan (but I repeat, while the threat of Covid-19 exists, that is out of the question),” he said.

Roque said Covid-19 situation could still improve with over two months left before the opening of classes.

“We will see po what will happen in the next few months kasi Agosto pa naman po ang simula ng klase (because classes will open on August yet),” he said.

In a public address on May 25, Duterte said he believes the opening of F2F classes should be pushed back until a vaccine that could protect persons against Covid-19 would be developed.

“I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit ang mga bata. Bahala na hindi makatapos (if students have to stay close to each other. Never mind if they don’t finish). For this generation wala nang matapos na doctor pati engineer (no one will finish medicine or engineering),” he said.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones vowed to comply with Duterte’s directive, saying students will remain at home indefinitely and instead utilize alternative learning methods in light of the health crisis.

She said the DepEd is readying the resumption of school operations based on their Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) from the DepEd Central Office down to the school level.

The DepEd is also preparing for “blended learning” which would make use of radio, television, online and modular learning.

Colleges and universities using full online education can open anytime while those using flexible learning can open anytime in August 2020.

The Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) using significant face-to-face classes can open not earlier than September 1, 2020 while no in-person classes are allowed until August 21, 2020.

Private colleges and universities are encouraged to change their academic calendar and open in August 2020.

Remote enrollment is ongoing nationwide with the aim of collecting and assessing household information of students. (PNA)