President Duterte prefers classes to open once vaccine is available

President Rodrigo Duterte believes the opening of classes should be pushed back until a vaccine that could protect persons against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) would be developed.

In a public address late Monday night, Duterte said it was “useless” to talk about the opening of classes, particularly holding it face-to-face, without a vaccine because it would endanger the lives of students.

Duterte said allowing students to return to school without getting vaccinated would “spell disaster”.

“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.

He explained that he wanted to ensure that students were vaccinated before they return to school.

“Unless I am sure that they are really safe. It’s useless to be talking about opening of classes. Para sa akin bakuna muna. Pag nandiyan ang bakuna, okay na (For me, there should be a vaccine first. When it’s available, then it’s okay),” he said.

The President said he was hopeful that a vaccine could be developed before the year ends.

“I think by the grace of God we will have the vaccine before the end of the year. They are feverishly working on it,” he said.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is still a chance for the school opening to change depending on the country’s rate of infection.

“Flexible naman po tayo eh. Although we have said that August 24 is the date of school opening, that assumes na at least GCQ na po ang sitwasyon ‘no. Kung talagang come August 24 ay may mga lugar pa rin na under MECQ or bumalik sa ECQ, na mayroon eh baka wala pa rin pong klase iyan (We’re flexible. Although we have said that August 24 is the date of school reopening, that assumes that most areas are under general community quarantine. If come August 24 there are still areas under modified enhanced community quarantine or areas that returned to enhanced community quarantine, we might still not resume classes),” he said.

He said Congress may amend the law to move the schedule of the opening of classes.

Under Republic Act 7977, also known as “An Act to Lengthen the School Calendar from Two Hundred (200) days to not more than Two Hundred Twenty (220) Class Days,” 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) set the opening of the school year 2020-2021 on August 24, 2020 while the end of the school year will be on April 30, 2021.

Private schools and state or local universities and colleges (SUCs/LUCs) will be allowed to open classes earlier provided that “no face-to-face classes” will be allowed earlier than August 24.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) using full online education can open anytime; while those using flexible learning can open anytime in August; and those using face-to-face or in-person classes can open not earlier than September 1.

Curricular and co-curricular activities that draw large crowds such as science fairs, school sports, campus journalism, and other similar activities will be canceled. (PNA) 

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