President Rodrigo Duterte will not allow the resumption of face-to-face classes without the rollout of vaccines against Covid-19, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Monday.
The lawmaker, who had served long years as the President’s special assistant including more than two decades when he was still the Davao City mayor, said the Chief Executive considers the dangers students and teachers will face should schools reopen and the possible repercussions it might entail.
“President Duterte is still doubtful. He doesn’t want to allow face-to-face classes yet because the danger (of the Covid-19 pandemic) remains. He is afraid because according to him, we are dealing with lives here,” Go said in a statement.
“Maybe we can resume in the next regular opening of the school year in July or when it’s safe already,” he added.
Go expressed a similar sentiment earlier when he reiterated his position that the government’s national vaccination program should precede the proposal of placing the country under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
“For me, the vaccines should come first. It should be vaccine rollout first before opening the economy,” he said.
“We’re living in dangerous times. The lives of the people are more important. I will repeat — money can still be earned but that money cannot buy life,” he added.
Some senators, however, rallied in favor of resuming limited face-to-face classes in areas with low Covid-19 cases citing difficulties students encounter during distance learning.
“I agree that we can already have face-to-face classes but that should be in local government units with minimum to zero Covid cases. As I said, if it is possible to conduct classes in a covered court where only 10 to 15 students will attend classes maybe for once a week,” Senator Nancy Binay said.
“I am not agreeing to a face-to-face setup during the old normal. We need to find a new way of doing face-to-face classes because I believe our students are really suffering,” she added.
President Duterte revoked his earlier approval to conduct in-person classes by January this year in low-risk areas following the detection of UK-virus strain in neighboring countries like Malaysia.
However, he approved the resumption of limited face-to-face classes for medical and allied health programs in institutions located at general community quarantine and MGCQ areas.
Malacañang, also on Monday said the President would consider allowing classes in areas with low coronavirus risk in August or months after the country’s Covid-19 vaccination begins.
Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the chief executive has rejected the renewed push for the resumption of in-person classes in March, echoing Go’s disclosure that Duterte does not want to tinker with the youth’s lives.
“The president called me last night and he said he does not want to put the lives of our students and teachers at risk, until no one has been vaccinated yet in the country,” Roque said.
Resuming face-to-face classes in areas with low coronavirus transmission is among the recommendations of the National Economic and Development Authority presented to Duterte last week.
The recommendations, including the easing of quarantine restrictions in the entire country, were expected to be discussed by the President and the Cabinet in a meeting on Monday night.
with MJ BLANCAFLOR