- DOH Secretary Duque said that they think that it’s safe to resume classes on August 24.
- President Duterte expressed his disagreement upon the decision, saying that he will not allow classes to resume until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available in the market.
On May 5, Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the next school year will officially open on August 24. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that elementary and high school students will physically attend classes. The classes can be conducted online until the government allows the reopening of school campuses.
“Ang napili nating school opening date ay August 24 pero hindi ibig sabihin na lahat ay physical na papasok kasi may lockdown tayo,” Briones said.
Meanwhile, in a televised speech by President Rodrigo Duterte aired on May 25, he said that he would not allow the resumption of physical classes until a vaccine against COVID-19 is available.
“I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit ‘yang mga bata. Bahala nang hindi na makatapos, for this generation, wala nang matapos na doktor pati engineer. Wala nang aral, laro na lang. Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it’s useless to be talking about the opening of classes. Para sa akin, bakuna muna. Kapag nandiyan ‘yung bakuna, okay na.”
The Malacanang then assured the public that the government will be “flexible” when it comes to implementing the scheduled opening of classes to ensure the safety of the students amid the pandemic.
But it seems like that the public servants have not made up their mind regarding the opening of classes as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that they are currently studying the situation but they think that it’s still safe to resume the classes by August 24.
“Pag-aaralan po natin [nang] maigi ito. Pero sa ngayon po, tingin namin, ay ligtas kung bubuksan ang klase by August 24,” he said during a Senate Health Committee hearing.
“Kinakailangan na ang lahat ng ating minimum standards for health ay nakatalaga.”
Duque added that the health standards include physical distancing measures, frequent hand-washing, use of alcohol and sanitizers, and regular disinfection of classrooms.
Online classes can still be used as an alternative to lessen the volume in schools.
“Tingin ko magiging ligtas naman po ang pagbubukas ng atin pong mga paaralan. We have many measures in place, Mr. Chairman,” he told Senator Bong Go.
The DOH chief then clarified that he understands the president’s concerns regarding the matter.
“The children are certainly very valuable to President Duterte and he does not want to compromise the health of the children and we cannot risk the health of the children when there is no vaccine.”
President Duterte and Secretary Duque previously contradicted the statements of each other regarding the subject of a “second wave” of COVID-19 happening in the Philippines.