THE EDUCATION department has suspended pilot face-to-face classes in Metro Manila after President Rodrigo R. Duterte tightened the lockdown level in the capital region amid rising coronavirus infections. 

The suspension stands until the coronavirus alert level returns to Level 2, it said in an advisory on Sunday night. It announced the decision weeks after almost 30 public schools in the capital region started holding limited face-to-face classes. 

Physical classes in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2 will continue, the agency said. 

The government raised the alert level in the capital region as the country faces threats from the heavily mutated Omicron variant. 

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who heads the basic education committee, urged the government to fast-track vaccine rollout for children aged 12 to 17 to protect students from infections. 

In a statement, Mr. Gatchalian said teachers should be tested regularly for the coronavirus “especially because they continue to report for work despite the lack of face-to-face classes.” 

He said schools in areas under Alert Level 2 should follow protocols such as contact tracing and install adequate sanitation facilities. 

Education officials earlier told a Senate hearing 7.1 million out of 12.7 million minors aged 12 to 17 have received at least their first vaccine dose, while 2.7 million got fully vaccinated. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza