Face-to-face classes to be studied: Palace

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MANILA – While President Rodrigo Duterte has stood pat in his decision not to allow face-to-face (F2F) classes until a vaccine against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is developed, Malacañang on Thursday said that the proposal to hold F2F classes could still be studied for areas under the “new normal”.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the decision to prohibit F2F classes could still change should there be zero or a low number of new Covid-19 cases and community transmission in a particular area.

“Hayaan ninyo po (Don’t worry), never say die ‘no. Pagdating naman po ng Agosto, titingnan natin ang datos kung gaano karaming lugar ang nasa new normal na at ibibigay natin uli ‘no ang suhestiyon na baka naman pupuwede nang mag-face-to-face doon sa mga new normal (When August comes, we will check the data to see which areas are under the new normal and we will raise the suggestion to allow face-to-face classes),” he said in a virtual presser.

Roque, however, said that given the current situation with 27,799 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country, the likelihood of allowing F2F classes remains slim.

“As of now, the President has overruled the IATF and has correctly decided na hindi po dapat isapalaran ang kalusugan ng ating kabataan (that he should not put the health of our youth at risk),” he said.

Last week, Roque said Duterte may be open to further discussion on the possibility of allowing F2F classes in areas with zero cases of Covid-19.

“I am sure the President is open to further discussion on the possibility of face-to-face pero uulitin ko po, habang may banta ang Covid sa isang lugar eh out of the question po iyan (but I repeat, while the threat of Covid-19 exists, that is out of the question),” he said.

Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday suggested that F2F classes for students should be considered in areas with low risk of Covid-19 infection and those with limited digital capacity.

Alvarez, a former House Speaker, said F2F classes may be more effective and a practical option for certain areas in the country, noting that a nuanced and area-specific approach is the “best and realistic way forward”.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has set the opening of classes for the school year 2020-2021 on August 24.

Colleges and universities using full online education can open anytime while those using flexible learning can open anytime in August 2020.

F2F classes will not be permitted until a vaccine for the Covid-19 is available, in compliance with Duterte’s order.

DepEd said it would implement a “blending learning” approach which makes use of radio, television, online, and modular learning.

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera also disclosed that they are studying the possibility of allowing limited F2F classes in areas free of Covid-19. -PNA

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