President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday told the Department of Education (DepEd) to hold off face-to-face classes until school children and teachers have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Dito sa face-to-face, I think I am not inclined to agree with you. I’m sorry but mahirap. I cannot gamble on the health of the children. I hope you’d understand,” the president told Education Secretary Leonor Briones in his weekly televised address.

Briones said she accepted Duterte’s decision.

“We don’t have any reservations because we all know the effect. And especially the idea, Mr.
President, having also our children vaccinated because we are told that children are now more prone and perhaps are vulnerable, and we would not want to risk 27 million children and our teachers,” she 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.

It was the third time Duterte rejected the DepEd’s proposal to conduct face-to-face classes in areas with low to zero Covid-19 cases.

In July, Duterte signed Republic Act 11480, which allows him to set at any date the opening of classes in case of a state of calamity or emergency.

Public school classes for School Year 2021 to 2022 could start on Aug. 23 or the first or second week of September. John Ezekiel J. Hirro