President Rodrigo Duterte said he would still not allow the resumption of face-to-face classes even with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
“Not yet, not now,” the President said in a press briefing after receiving the 600,000 doses of vaccines from Chinese firm Sinovac on Sunday.
“I am not ready to lose the lives of our young people,” he added.
For his part, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara warned the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains even with the start of the mass vaccination program as he cautioned against the resumption of in-person classes.
“Before any plan to resume face-to-face classes is rolled out, it would be best to conduct a pilot implementation of this first to see how this will work,” he said.
In selecting the areas that will be part of the pilot program, Angara said that the primary consideration should be those with very few or zero cases of the novel coronavirus disease.
A COVID-19 survivor himself, Angara said in other countries, there have been reports of face-to-face classes serving as super spreader events.
Angara said local government units that will be part of the pilot testing should have health facilities capable of handling a large number of cases – from isolation to treatment.
On the other hand, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said schools should reopen and face-to-face classes should resume immediately so that the educational system can catch up with other countries in Southeast Asia.
Sotto filed Senate Resolution No. 663 which states that “there is no substitute to face-to-face classes, which is probably the best way to arrest the decline in (education) quality and to improve learner outcomes.”
“There are deep concerns that while countries whose students had performed well in the past international assessments are already back on track, the Philippines is still lagging behind using the blended learning method, which to many is not an effective means due to lack of access to internet and gadgets by majority of pupils and students,” Sotto said.
Sotto said the Philippines remains one of only 14 countries out of 150 countries worldwide and the only country in SouthEast Asia that has kept its schools closed for face-to-face classes.