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DepEd firm to resume classes on Aug. 24

Education Secretary Leonor Briones joins the meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) presided by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on May 28, 2020. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The Department of Education (DepEd) stood pat on its decision to resume classes by Aug. 24 even if President Rodrigo Duterte appeared to push for an indefinite delay to the upcoming school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones, however, clarified on Thursday that there would be “no face-to-face classes until safe,” a position she said was consistent with the President’s remarks on Tuesday.

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Schools would still open in August but under alternative teaching modes, she added.

“We can still provide learning opportunities to our students without requiring them to come to school through blended and distance learning,” Briones told reporters. This included online classes, printed modules and lessons delivered on television and radio, the education official said.

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The DepEd position was more in line with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s clarification that in-person classes would be prohibited in areas under community quarantine. “It’s useless to be talking about the opening of classes. For me, there should be a vaccine first,” Mr. Duterte said early this week.

While the DepEd did not echo the President’s ultimatum of the need for a vaccine before face-to-face classes could resume, the department indicated it would defer to his judgment on the matter.

“If in his view it is not safe to conduct face-to-face classes, then that is the position we are following,” said Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan.

Briones said the DepEd was open to delaying the academic year, but she said the current date was necessary as a “goal which we have to set our minds [on].”

In a Senate hearing, local officials expressed concern about the Aug. 24 opening of classes amid the continued threat of COVID-19.

Marinduque Gov. Presbitero Velasco Jr., who is president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines, cited the arrival of repatriated overseas Filipino workers and locally stranded individuals as increasing the risk of infection.

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TAGS: August 24, Briones, COVID-19, DepEd, pandemic, resumption of classes
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