After President Rodrigo Duterte said that he doesn’t want children to return to school due to the COVID-19 pandemic, here comes another member of his team contradicting what he said. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said today that school enrollment would push through in June.
“Our preparation [for the new school year] will push through. Although the president said that he would not allow children to face any health risks, we’re looking at the data to see if we are moving to what we call is the ‘new normal,'” Roque said in an interview with Teleradyo, ABS-CBN’s internet radio show.
Roque did not explain what he meant by “new normal,” but he said that if the Philippines reaches this situation, face-to-face learning will be possible.
“If Aug. 24 arrives and it becomes the new normal, face-to-face [classes] will proceed. But if we don’t reach new normal…classes will continue, but it will be blended learning. We will use community TV stations, community radio stations, and the internet for the youth’s education,” Roque added.
Numerous critics have pointed out that many children from impoverished communities do not have access to the internet, and these kids would end up being at a disadvantage during distance learning. However, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the government would rely more on radio to educate school children, explains Roque.
“Like what Secretary Briones said, the most accessible are community radios because those children who live in remote areas who don’t have access to the internet, they will have access to radio,” Roque said.
But if there is any doubt, Roque reiterated that enrollment will push through this year.
“That’s going to happen. Our preparation will continue even if the number of COVID-19 cases increases. We’re preparing for the possibility of both face-to-face and blended learning,” the spokesman said.
Duterte said earlier this week that he would not have schools reopened, adding that he preferred to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine to become available first. However, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said classes could resume this year as long as health measures will be implemented in schools.