Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio on Monday said the Covid-19 pandemic and lack of school facilities were not excuses to keep children from returning to face-to-face (F2F) schooling.

During the program for the National School Opening Day Program at the Dinalupihan Elementary School in Bataan, Duterte-Carpio said the government could no longer afford keeping schools shut from children.

“There are no excuses. Hindi na po natin kaya na muling maantala pa ang pag-aaral ng mga kabataang Pilipino. Kailangan na po natin silang maibalik sa in-person learning dahil sa in-person learning, makakakuha ng makahulugan, sapat o wasto, at dekalidad na edukasyon na kailangan nila para sa kalinangan ng kanilang pag-iisip sa pagtatag ng malakas na bansa,” she said in her speech.

Public school classes opened on Monday, resurfacing old problems plaguing schools pre-pandemic such as shortages in classrooms and armchairs.

Duterte-Carpio said she had heard the clamor of parents wanting their children to return to their schools and had instructed the Department of Education (DepEd) to come up with safety measures.

“Hindi po natin binabale-wala ang mga pangamba na dulot ng pandemya. Dahil diyan, naglatag po tayo ng mga alintuntunin para maiwasan na mahawa ng Covid-19 ang ating mga learners at mga teaching at non-teaching personnel sa mga paaralan,” she said.

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

All public and private schools are required to have transitioned to having five days of in-person classes per week starting Nov. 2, 2022.

According to the DepEd, 27.1 million students have enrolled for school year 2022-2023. John Ezekiel J. Hirro