Roque: Classes to resume virtually if community quarantine lasts until August 24

JC Gotinga
Roque: Classes to resume virtually if community quarantine lasts until August 24
Students in areas without internet access may attend barangay 'makeshift classes' with radio or TV sets, says the presidential spokesperson

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte was only referring to physical classes when he said school was out of the question during the coronavirus pandemic, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday, May 26.

“Habang wala pang bakuna, at habang wala pa tayo sa ‘new normal’ – ‘yung wala na pong community quarantines – hindi pa rin po tayo magkakaroon ng face-to-face classroom na mga klase,” Roque said in a televised briefing in Malacañang.

(That means while there is no vaccine, and while we’re not yet in the “new normal” – when community quarantines are lifted – we still won’t have face-to-face classroom classes.)

Roque was interpreting Duterte’s statement from his televised speech on Monday night, May 25, when the Presient said: “It is useless to be talking about opening of classes. Para sa akin, bakuna muna (For me, it’s vaccination first).”

If the local outbreak of the novel coronavirus is not abated by August 24, schools in all levels may resume classes virtually through what the Department of Education (DepEd) calls blended learning.

DepEd will provide learning modules that students may download from the internet using computers, tablets, or smartphones.

But how about students who have no access to the internet or devices with which to download the modules? (READ: Vico Sotto: We can’t let public school students get left behind)

“Kung walang internet [sa isang lugar], sigurado namang may radyo doon. Kung kinakailangan, ay magkakaroon ho siguro tayo ng makeshift classroom using radio or TV sa iba’t ibang barangay centers kung saan puwede talagang magkaroon ng social distancing,” Roque said.

(If there’s no internet [in a certain area], then surely there’s radio there. If necessary, we can perhaps have makeshift classrooms using radio or TV in different barangay centers where there can be social distancing.)

The public school system may enlist the help of local radio or TV stations to hold virtual classes. The Department of Information and Communication Technology may be invited to check the country’s capacity for internet-based learning, Roque added.

This way, discrimination against poor students – for not owning gadgets – will be avoided, Roque said.

DepEd earlier said classes will resume on August 24. In places safe enough to hold physical classes, conventional classes may be taught in schools. Otherwise, lessons will be taught through the virtual modules.

Contrary to Duterte’s statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told a Senate panel on Tuesday that it would be “safe” to resume classes on August 24 as long as health protocols are observed.

Roque said that if community quarantines are lifted by August 24, then conventional schooling may resume.

School-age children, along with senior citizens and pregnant women, are generally more vulnerable to COVID-19, health officials said. –

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.