President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered on December 26, Saturday, educational institutions to not conduct face-to-face classes yet given the emergence of new strains of COVID-19.

“We will implement the president’s instructions to recall limited face-to-face classes in the light of recent development,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in response to the President’s order.

Earlier, Senator and chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go reiterated his firm reservation regarding the holding of pilot face-to-face classes in the country by January 2021 while there is still no approved safe and effective vaccine and amid the emergence of new strains of COVID-19.

He has consistently urged concerned authorities to reconsider such plan given the potential threat of COVID-19 and its new strains to the health and safety of the students, teaching staff and surrounding communities, without an approved vaccine to protect them.

“Same stand po ako diyan. Matagal ko nang sinasabi na habang wala pang vaccine ay ‘wag muna natin ipasubo ang mga bata. Dapat balikan at pag-aralan ng gobyerno ang polisiyang ito na bumalik sa face-to-face classes,” Go said during an interview on Saturday, December 26.

“Sa Mayo, matatapos naman na ang klase (school year). Ba’t ‘di na lang natin antayin? Alam naman natin na marami pang nangyayari. Nakakabahala kung bubuksan pa natin ang klase (na face-to-face),” he said.

“Unahin natin ang buhay at kaligtasan ng bawat Pilipino. A life lost is a life lost forever,” he stressed further.

The Department of Education had earlier pushed for limited physical classes in low-risk areas in order to address the educational challenges confronting children from disadvantaged families and in rural areas.

Go has discussed the issue with President Duterte to reconsider the move and delay the pilot implementation until there is a safe and effective vaccine available and the country’s level of immunity is high enough to achieve herd immunity.

“With what is happening right now sa ibang bansa, siguro maaaring pag-usapan at pag-aralan at bisitahing muli ang desisyon ng DepEd. Pwede ko pong kausapin si Pangulo at maaaring pag-aralang muli ang pilot implementation ng face-to-face classes,” continued the Senator.

“Pag may nag-positive diyan kahit isa, panibagong contact tracing na naman tayo. Back to square one na naman, panibagong trabaho. Ba’t ‘di pa natin hintayin ang next school year? Sakaling ma-attain na natin ang herd immunity baka sakaling makapag pilot test na tayo,” he added.

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