(UPDATED as of 12:58PM)
President Rodrigo Duterte said he is okay with a proposal of the Department of Education to allow limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas under Modified General Community Quarantine, but starting January 2021 and not next month.
"I'm okay with that," the President told Education Secretary Leonor Briones during Monday night's talk to the nation aired Tuesday morning.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified that limited face-to-face classes can only commence in 2021 and not on Aug. 24 when the school year starts.
Briones cited studies which showed that "children are not as badly affected by the COVID phenomenon as compared to adults."
Of the total confirmed cases of infection in the country, Briones said only about 4 percent or over 2,000 cases involve children.
She said only 16 recorded COVID-related deaths among children have been recorded so far.
The Education secretary said allowing limited face-to-face learning will also close inquality gaps.
"If we rely heavily on online learning, then you'll have equity problems for those who don't have access to digital equipment," she said.
She said the department has received many requests from local chief executives — including those from Siargao and Dinagat Islands, public and international schools for limited face-to-face classes.
Briones said the DepEd has recorded 77 percent total enrolment for the coming school opening on Aug. 24.
However, while 90 percent of public school students have enrolled, only 27 percent were able to return in private schools.