Duterte no go-signal yet for limited face-to-face classes

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President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to give his go signal even with a “positive reaction” to the proposal of Education Secretary Leonor Briones to hold limited face-to-face (F2F) classes in pilot areas where the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) risk is low, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte has yet to give his “go signal” to push through with the pilot F2F classes, although his initial reluctance may change.

“Secretary Briones gave a report to the President and the President gave a positive reaction on the possibility of having a pilot study on a limited basis,” he said in Filipino in a Palace press briefing.

Citing Briones’ proposal, he said the DepEd is planning to hold a dry-run of limited in-person classes in some 150 schools in areas where there is low Covid-19 risk.

If I am not mistaken, around 150 schools are expected to be part of the pilot in areas where there are few Covid cases. But let us wait for the final decision,” he added in Filipino.

Duterte has repeatedly rejected DepEd proposals for pilot F2F classes due to concerns of more infectious variants of Covid-19.

Last month, Roque said the high turnout of Covid-19 vaccination might convince Duterte to allow the resumption of in-person classes.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) earlier 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.

To date, the Philippines and Venezuela are the last two countries in the world where schools remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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 official opened classes in public and private schools for the school year 2021-2022 where blended learning is set to continue pending Duterte’s decision.

Data from the DepEd showed that 24,603,822 learners have so far enrolled in private and public schools nationwide.

DepEd Undersecretary for Field Operations Revsee Escobedo on Monday said enrollees for school year 2021-2022 would be accepted until September 30.

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