President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday announced that he would not allow the resumption of physical classes without a vaccine against the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit 'yang mga bata,” Duterte said in a televised speech from Malacañang.
“Bahala nang hindi na makatapos, for this generation, wala nang matapos na doktor pati engineer. Wala nang aral, laro na lang. Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it's useless to be talking about the opening of classes. Para sa akin, bakuna muna. Kapag nandiyan 'yung bakuna, okay na,” Duterte said.
Lawmakers earlier urged the government to defer the August 24 opening of classes until a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available.
Malacañang, however, assured the public that the government will be "flexible" in implementing the scheduled opening of classes to ensure the safety of students amid the pandemic.
“Well, alam ninyo po, flexible naman po tayo eh. Although we have said that August 24 is the date of school opening, that assumes na at least GCQ (general community quarantine) na po ang sitwasyon ‘no. Kung talagang come August 24 ay may mga lugar pa rin na under MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) or bumalik sa ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), na mayroon talagang posibilidad dahil nga binabalewala ang social distancing, eh baka wala pa rin pong klase iyan,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque earlier said.