MANILA – The high turnout of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination might convince President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the resumption of face-to-face (F2F) classes in areas with low-risk classification, Malacañang said on Thursday.
This, after the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urged the governments worldwide to start the “phased reopening” of schools as soon as possible, saying prolonged school closures have an adverse impact on learners.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that Duterte wants the majority of Filipinos to get inoculated against Covid-19 before allowing students to attend in-person classes.
“Ang sabi ni Presidente, baka i-consider na niya ang pilot at least kapag marami na ang nabakunahan (The President said he might consider the pilot implementation of [F2F classes- if many have already been inoculated),” Roque said in a virtual press conference.
Roque said the President wants to make sure that children are already protected from Covid-19, once the F2F classes resume.
“Hayaan po muna nating magkaroon ng kumpiyansa ang ating Presidente (Let’s let the President have the confidence first),” Roque said.
The Philippines is one of the five countries in the world that have not started in-person classes since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UNICEF said in its Aug. 25 report.
UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said schools worldwide were fully closed for an average of 79 teaching days in 2020, while those in the Philippines have been close for over a year.
Dendevnorov warned that prolonged school closures may result in children’s “learning loss, mental distress, missed vaccinations, and heightened risk of drop out, child labor, and child marriage.”
Roque said the Department of Education (DepEd) is merely awaiting Duterte’s approval on the pilot implementation of in-person classes in areas with low cases of Covid-19.
“Sang-ayon sa batas ang Presidente po magde-desisyon at hinihintay naman po ng ating Department of Education ang pagsang-ayon ng ating Presidente para mag-conduct ng pilot face-to-face classes sa ilang mga paaralan sa mga lugar na mababa ang kaso ng Covid (The law mandates the President to decide and the Department of Education is awaiting the President’s nod on the conduct of pilot face-to-face classes in schools that are in areas with low Covid-19 cases),” he said.
Roque added that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) would make a presentation “soon” to orient Duterte about the advantages of allowing the resumption of F2F classes in low-risk areas.
The presentation would also include the UNICEF’s latest report, Roque said.
“Bago magbukas ang ating pasukan sa Setyembre ay at least magkakaroon ng presentation (Before the school opening in September, there will be a presentation),” he said.
For the school year 2020-2021 that opened in October 2020, DepEd conducted classes through online learning, modular learning, television and radio-based instruction, and blended learning which is a combination of two or more methods of learning.
On Monday, the DepEd reported that around 7,249,765 learners have already enrolled in public schools nationwide for Academic Year 2021-2022.
Registration will run until Sept. 13, the first day of the school year.
DepEd is set to continue the implementation of blended learning for the school year 2021-2022 since the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the government to suspend physical classes. (PNA)