Duterte cancels dry run of face-to-face classes over COVID-19 fears

President Rodrigo Duterte took back his approval for a dry run of face-to-face classes in 2021, as other countries report cases of the new coronavirus variant reaching their shores.

"I'm calling back the order and I will not allow face-to-face classes for the children until we are through with this," Duterte said in a televised briefing on Saturday, December 26.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has already recalled the plans upon the President's orders.

The Department of Education (DepEd) said in a statement on Saturday that it is suspending the pilot run of face-to-face classes "until further notice."

"The department will fully cooperate with the Inter-Agency Task Force in its response to the current situation," the DepEd added.

Duterte earlier approved the dry run in mid-December. Voluntary face-to-face classes were supposed to be tested in select schools located in areas with low COVID-19 risk.

Health groups earlier warned that face-to-face classes pose a health risk, given the Philippines' lack of health infrastructure and gaps in testing and contact tracing.

In the same briefing, Duterte said returning to a stricter lockdown "is a possibility."

"I said we're making some projections. But if the severity in numbers would demand that we take corrective measures immediately, then we should just have to go back to lockdown," added the President.

Metro Manila, Batangas, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, Lanao del Sur, Iligan City, Davao City, and Davao del Norte are under general community quarantine (GCQ) until December 31.

The rest of the country are under modified GCQ, the loosest quarantine classification in the country. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.