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President Duterte Opposes Opening of Classes on August 24

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte does not favor the opening of classes until COVID-19 vaccine is available.

Two weeks ago, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced that online classes may start in June, while “face-to-face” education starts on August 24. The DepEd said the law mandates that classes should start by August.

However, in a televised address on late Monday night, May 25, the President said he would not allow the opening of classes if students would crowd inside a classroom unless they are safe.

“Kids shouldn’t be allowed to go out yet. The opening of classes, that’s very dangerous,” Duterte said.

“I will not allow the openingopening of classes until COVID-19 vaccine is available of classes where the kids will be sitting side-by-side with each other. Let it be, don’t let them graduate. For this generation, there will be no doctors or engineers graduating. No one will graduate to become a doctor or engineer. Let’s not have school yet. Just play,” he added.

“[Don’t start classes] unless I’m sure that they are really safe. It’s useless to be talking about the opening of classes. For me, it’s important that a vaccine has to be made first. Once the vaccine is available, OK,” he said.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the resumption of classes does not require full physical attendance of students, stressing that online learning is still a viable option.

Chairman of the Senate Basic Education Committee, Senator Win Gatchalian noted that the government may have to “adjust accordingly” if the COVID-19 situation in the country does not improve by then.

“August 24 is still three months away from now. We still have time to evaluate the situation,” Gatchalian said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source yesterday.