Duterte ‘not inclined’ to allow in-person classes to resume
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte rejected again on Monday a bid by the Department of Education (DepEd) to resume in-person classes with most of the population still not vaccinated against COVID-19, especially amid the threat of the more infectious Delta variant.
“On the face-to-face [classes], I think I’m not inclined to agree with you,” Duterte told Education Secretary Leonor Briones during his taped weekly briefing. “I’m sorry, but it’s a difficult situation. I cannot gamble on the health of the children.”
Briones said the DepEd would accept the decision, acknowledging the threat that COVID-19 posed on the 27 million children and 847,000 teachers.
She noted that the DepEd had always relied on health professionals, the Department of Health (DOH), and the president on decisions concerning the pandemic and the resumption of classes.
She said, however, that she was hoping that Duterte would support the resumption of classes of 100 pilot schools, which she called the DepEd’s “learning continuity program.”
“Listening to the briefing and listening to your decision, we really don’t have any reservations because we all know all the effect. We are told children are now more prone and perhaps are vulnerable, and we do not want to risk 27 million and our teachers,” Briones said.
“So we are withdrawing our request in light of your decision and we accept fully your decision — which is a very well-informed decision, if I may say so,” she added.
During the briefing, several government medical experts, particularly from the technical advisory group of the DOH, warned against the threat of the more transmissible Delta variant, which was first detected in India.
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