Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that schools should remain closed until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is ready.
Without a vaccine, sending children to school “spells disaster,” Duterte said during a late-night television address on Monday. “I will not allow the opening of classes where students will be near each other,” he said. “Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it’s useless to be talking about opening of classes.”
The Department of Education had set the opening of the school year for August 24 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, three months after its traditional start in June.
But the department stressed that “school opening will not necessarily mean traditional face-to-face learning in (the) classroom.” “The physical opening of schools will depend on the risk severity grading or classification of a locality,” it added when it announced the new school calendar.
Schools have been conducting online lessons for students who have access to computers and the Internet at home. However, this option is not available to all students, especially those in remote areas.
As in many countries around the world, many parents have been home-schooling. Presidential spokesman Harry
Roque said yesterday that learning should continue despite the pandemic, but Duterte did not want schools to hold face-to-face classes.
“We have what we call blended learning,” Roque said. “We will use the television, the radio and the internet to continue the education of our children.”
The Department of Health yesterday reported 350 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines, bringing the national tally to 14,669.
An additional 13 deaths were also recorded, making the death toll 886.
Metro Manila and high-risk areas for infections are under relaxed lockdown until May 31, which has allowed some industries and establishments, such as malls, to resume limited operations.
Roque said authorities were reviewing the situation in the country to determine if restrictions could be relaxed further at the end of the month.
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