MANILA – The actual date for the school opening amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic will be tackled in President Rodrigo Duterte’s next meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

In a taped public address aired on state-run PTV-4 on Friday morning, Duterte said the decision on the opening of classes would be announced in his next public address.

He made the statement as he maintained that face-to-face classes would only resume, once a vaccine against Covid-19 is developed.

“In the next meeting, we will decide on the actual date of how to open the schools. Ang akin, basta mabakunahan lang (My stance is there should be a vaccine first),” Duterte said.

On July 17, he signed Republic Act (RA) 11480, which allows the President, upon the recommendation of the Education Secretary, to set a different date for the start of the school year in the country in case of a state of emergency or state of calamity.

Under RA 11480, the school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has already scheduled the school opening on August 24 and the end of the school year on April 30, 2021.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in a meeting held at Malacañan on Thursday night, told Duterte that the government is ready to implement blended learning when schools open on August 24.

“Kayang-kaya nating mag-start sa August 24 sa blended learning na approach natin (We can start the blended learning approach on August 24),” Briones said.

Blended learning is a combination of online distance learning and in-person delivery of education materials to the homes of learners.

The DepEd was forced to shift the modality of teaching from the traditional face-to-face classes to blended learning due to the pandemic.

Briones noted that as of July 30, about 92 percent of learners in public schools and 31 percent of learners in private schools have enrolled.

She assured Duterte that face-to-face classes would happen in 2020, noting that strict minimum health standards must be observed.

“Ang (The) schedule for face-to-face will be in 2021 pero very strict ang health standards na dine-demand natin (and we would demand for very strict health standards),” Briones said. (PNA)