President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected a proposal from the Department of Education to allow limited face-to-face classes in 300 public schools nationwide.
“As for face-to-face classes, I am not inclined to agree with you. We might differ in our opinions on the matter,” Duterte told Education Sec. Leonor Briones during his public address late Monday evening.
“It is difficult. I cannot gamble on the health of the children. I hope you will understand,” he added.
With the policy statement from the chief executive, Briones withdrew the proposal.
Earlier in the day, in a virtual press conference to mark the 123rd founding anniversary of the Department of Education, Briones said there were originally 1,900 schools approved by DepEd regional directors for the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes.
The number was reduced further to 300 upon the advice of lawmakers who said it was “too many.”
Schools across the country have remained closed since March last year when the pandemic broke out, with learners at the basic education level remaining at their homes.
DepEd first proposed the pilot testing in low- or no-risk areas in December last year. Duterte initially approved it but in April withdrew his go-signal amid the surge in cases and the detection of more transmissible variants in the country.
The government has yet to include individuals aged 17 years and below in its vaccination rollout program.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., however, announced Monday that half of the 40 million Pfizer jabs procured by the government will be used for children under the 12 to 15 years old age bracket.