Will schools be reopening in August?

The Department of Education earlier announced the resumption of classes on August 24. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues it is unclear whether this plan remains on track.

(UP Experts Recommend Suspending Classes Until December 2020)

On May 25, President Rodrigo Duterte rejected the opening of classes without a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit ‘yang mga bata,” he said in a televised address on late Monday night. “Bahala nang hindi na makatapos […] 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.

[“I will not allow the opening of classes where the children will be physically close together. It’s fine if they don’t finish … No more studies, just playtime. Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it’s useless to be talking about the opening of classes. For me, we need a vaccine first. When there is already a vaccine, then it’s okay.”]

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III later contradicted President Duterte in a Senate health panel hearing on May 26, saying that schools are safe to reopen as long as minimum health standards are in place.

“Pag-aaralan po nating maigi ito. Sa ngayon, tingin namin, ligtas naman po kung bubuksan natin ang klase by August 24. Kinakailangan po dito, siguraduhin lamang na lahat ng ating minimum standards for health ay nakatalaga,” Duque stated.

[We will study it carefully. For now, we believe that it is safe to open classes by August 24. What we need to do is to ensure that the minimum standards for health are in place.]

Duque clarified that these health standards include keeping physical distance, frequent washing of the hands, disinfection of the classroom, access to disinfectants, and temperature checks.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified on May 26 that President Duterte was referring to face-to-face classes. Virtual classes will be allowed to commence come August 24. He added that the enrolment period for students of public schools will be from June 1 to 30.

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