Malacañang clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte pertained to face-to-face classes in his statement on late Monday that he would not allow classes to open before a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available in the market.

“Kung hindi mai-lift ang community quarantines, hindi naman ibig sabihin na hindi na mag-aaral ang kabataan. Mayroong blended learning para sa edukasyon ng kabataan,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.

Roque said in-person classes might open if the country would be under the “new normal” by Aug. 24. “Kung hindi po, gagamit po tayo ng blended learning.”

Duterte said late Monday that student safety should come first, and that opening the academic year without a vaccine would be “useless.”

“For this generation, wala nang makatapos na doktor pati engineer. Kasi hindi na, wala nang aral. Laro na lang. Unless I am sure that they are really safe,” he said.

“It’s useless to be talking about the opening of classes. Para sa akin, bakuna muna. Pag nandyan ang bakuna, okay na,” he added.

Roque said that tools such as television, radio and internet would be used in delivering learning through blended methods as the country continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Department of Education previously announced that the school year would open on Aug. 24, whether physically or virtually.

Colleges and universities may open by June if they use a fully online system, while those using flexible learning may open anytime in August 2020.

Those using “significant” face-to-face modes cannot implement in-person learning until Aug. 31, 2020, but may open by Sept. 1, 2020.

Guidelines by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases as of May 22 state that face-to-face classes in all levels in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified ECQ and general community quarantine (GCQ) will remain suspended.

Duterte said he was hoping “by the grace of God” to have a vaccine ready before the end of 2020. John Ezekiel J. Hirro