President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Friday urged local chief executives to support the government’s rollout of Covid-19 vaccine for the safe resumption of face-to-face (F2F) classes.

In his virtual message during the meeting of newly elected governors and city mayors in Malacañang, the president said he wanted students to receive booster shots before they go to school.

“Nagpa-briefing din ako sa IATF, sa DOH, at mayroon talagang concern na kailangan na makapag-booster shot lalo na ‘yung mga batang bumabalik sa eskuwelahan,” he said.

“So let us return to the idea of what we did last year na magkaroon ulit ng vaccine rollout. Gawin na natin ito para makatiyak na tayo,” he added.

Marcos Jr. said the mask-wearing could be made optional if the rollout of booster shots would be successful and lead to lower alert levels.

“Pero hindi po natin gagawin ‘yan hanggang maliwanag na maliwanag na safe na talaga. Dahil although so far maganda naman ang takbo, hindi naman napupuno ang mga ospital. Ngunit kung hindi tayo maingat, mapupunta na naman tayo doon,” he said.

The president also highlighted the importancre of resuming F2F classes to the country’s economy.

“Unang-una diyan talaga ‘yung face-to-face. Malaking bagay ‘yan parang magbubukas talaga ang ating ekonomiya, magbubukas na naman ang ating lipunan at hindi na natin iniisip ang lockdown,” he said.

In an earlier media briefing, Marcos Jr. said the DepEd, under Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, was looking to expand F2F classes by “phases.”

“The first thing that is an example of that was Inday Sara’s announcement that we have a plan for full (F2F) by November of this year,” Marcos Jr. said after being asked about things discussed in his first Cabinet meeting.

“September we will start a phased face-to-face schooling. And that (F2F) will end up in early November as already 100 percent attendance ng mga bata,” he added.

Earlier this year, the NEDA said the country lost P22 trillion because of the restrictions implemented on F2F classes due to the pandemic.

Resuming full F2F classes would add P12 billion to the economy weekly, it added.

The government has also allowed schools under Alert Level 1 to relax social distancing requirements for the upcoming school year.

Public school classes for school year 2022-2023 are scheduled to begin on Aug. 22. John Ezekiel J. Hirro