Face-to-face classes approved for January

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved a proposal to allow limited face-to-face classes in coronavirus low-risk areas starting January.

“I’m with you on this,” the President said in a speech on Monday night, referring to Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones’ earlier recommendation. “Let’s try to make ourselves productive.”

Mr. Duterte earlier said he wouldn’t allow face-to-face classes until a vaccine for the virus is found.

The Department of Health reported 1,952 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 70,764. The death toll rose to 1,837 after two more patients died, while recoveries increased by 209 to 23,281, it said in a bulletin.

Government rules bar people younger than 21 years from leaving their homes in places under lockdown. But Ms. Briones said children are at the “lowest risk,” noting that less than 1% of local deaths from the coronavirus were children.


She said on Monday night face-to-face classes would be strictly regulated. She said these classes would be allowed in areas under an altered general community quarantine, and would be on a case-to-case basis.

School facilities would be inspected and health standards would be enforced. Face-to-face learning won’t start until January, she added.

Ms. Briones said students would benefit from classroom meetings once or twice a week. “The limited face-to-face classes close inequality gaps,” she said, adding the pure online learning won’t benefit those who don’t have access to digital equipment.

Classes are expected to begin on Aug. 24 using blended learning strategies that include modules, radio, television and online videos.

Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian on Tuesday said distance learning should be kept to prevent the virus from spreading in schools.

“I strongly urge the Department of Education to continue with the distance learning modality and suspend face-to-face classes this coming Aug. 24,” he said in a statement. “This is to protect our learners, parents and teachers from the possibility of infection from the COVID-19 virus.” — Gillian M. Cortez, Charmaine A. Tadalan and Vann Marlo M. Villegas