In the news, Department of Health DOH Secretary Duque defies Duterte, insists it is “Safe” for resumption of classes in August.
Health Secretary Franciso Duque III on Tuesday supported the resumption of classes in August despite the lack of a vaccine against coronavirus (COVID-19), in contrast to an earlier pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Sa ngayon, tingin namin ay ligtas naman po kung bubuksan natin ang klase by August 24,” he said during a virtual Senate hearing.
Duque’s statement came a day after Duterte said he did not approved of the resumption of school classes until there was an available vaccine against the coronavirus disease.
Duque said it is safe to resume classes amid the COVID-19 crisis as long as minimum health standards, such as physical distancing, wearing of face masks, and disinfecting of classrooms, will be observed.
He said the Department of Education has “many measures in place” to ensure the safety of students should they go back to school on August 24 — the date set by DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones.
“We hope the vaccines will be available at the soonest possible time. But habang wala pa, siguraduhin lang natin ang minimum health standards are met to mitigate the risks to our school children,” he added.
The health chief also said that DOH continues to review data in barangays, saying that schools located in areas with a number of COVID-19 cases also have to undergo localized quarantine.
But the Palace stood its ground, saying face-to-face classes will remain suspended until a vaccine becomes available and community quarantine restrictions are lifted in the area.
“Habang wala pang bakuna at habang wala pa tayo sa new normal — ‘yung wala na pong community quarantine —hindi pa rin po tayo magkakaroon ng face-to-face na mga klase,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.
All parts of the country remain under varying degrees of community quarantine depending on the number of COVID-19 cases. There are four levels of community quarantine — enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified ECQ, general community quarantine (GCQ), and modified GCQ. Once community lockdowns are lifted, the country will remain under the “new normal” or continual observing minimum health standards.
Duque also backed the proposal of DepEd to explore online learning after Briones said the resumption of classes will not require full physical attendance of students, stressing that online learning is still a viable option.
However, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said shifting to e-learning is unrealistic as majority of the country’s population does not have access to internet.
“The internet in the country remains the most expensive yet the slowest among Asian countries. I do not see how virtual classes being proposed by the DepEd can be effectively implemented across all sectors. The poor will be at a disadvantage here,” he said in a statement.
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