‘Bakuna muna’: PRRD rejects August opening of classes without COVID-19 vaccine

By Christian Esteves |  May 26, 2020

‘I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit ‘yang mga bata,’ says President Rodrigo Duterte.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, May 25, rejected moves to open the upcoming school year in August, clashing with the Department of Education’s (DepEd) earlier pronouncement it could resume face-to-face classes in areas with eased quarantine protocols.

Duterte stated his position on the matter as he addressed the public close to midnight on Monday, saying unless a coronavirus vaccine is available, he would not allow children to physically attend classes.

I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit ‘yang mga bata. Bahala na ‘di makatapos, for this generation wala na makatapos na doktor, pati engineer. Wala nang aral, laro na lang, unless I am sure they are really safe,” Duterte said.

As for him, “It’s useless to be talking about opening of classes. Para sa akin, bakuna muna.”

The President’s statement conflicts with Education Secretary Leonor Briones’ earlier announcement that classes for school year 2020-2021 would resume classes on August 24 – which was then approved by the government’s task force on the coronavirus last May 11.

Briones had mentioned classes may be conducted physically or virtually, depending on the state of the pandemic. She added it was “highly likely” that classes would be held online for areas under enhanced community quarantine, and that face-to-face classes may take place after August 24 “in areas allowed to open physically.” According to her, DepEd is now in the process of preparing schools to adopt “blended learning”.

DepEd’s decision was not well received, with parents and students criticising the department and saying it could be difficult for some students to enroll after the income of many households were affected due to the pandemic.

Teachers also expressed their dismay over DepEd’s decision, saying it could put children and the safety of their families at risk.

Meanwhile, DepEd earlier said distance learning options would also be adopted, while teaching methods and curriculum would be updated to match the “new normal” during coronavirus pandemic.

The current setup, however, left many teachers and students overwhelmed, and highlighted deep divides in access to education among those who could afford resources needed to keep up with schooling during the pandemic.

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