DepEd would have to use not just the internet but also television and radio to ensure that classes resume among students learning from a distance. “Kung hindi po talaga dumating ang new normal at hindi mai-lift ang community quarantine, hindi naman po ibig sabihin na hindi na mag-aaral ang ating mga kabataan,” Roque said. “Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it’s useless to be talking about opening of classes. Para sa akin, bakuna muna. Pag nandiyan ang bakuna, okay na,” said Duterte on Monday. Malacañang eventually clarified that President Duterte was only against the opening of face-to-face classes until there is an available vaccine against COVID-19. The President said he wanted to ensure that students were vaccinated before they return to school. President Duterte said it was “useless” to talk about the opening of classes, particularly holding it face-to-face, without a vaccine because it would endanger the lives of students. “During these times, we only have to take care of two things. One, the containment of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Two, the economy. All our resources, all our time should be focused on these. All the things we can forego for 2020 we should forego,” said Defensor. The Department of Education (DepEd) set the opening of school year 2020-2021 on Aug. 24, 2020 while the end of the school year will be on April 30, 2021. While the opening of schools could rev up the economy, Defensor said, “it is not worth the risk.” What should teachers, students and parents do if the school opening won’t push through this August? The vaccine, however, may be available next year yet. For his part, Mayor Treñas lauded the President for having a similar concern with parents. He wrote DepEd secretary Leonor Briones a letter two weeks ago seeking the postponement of the school opening to 2021. However, if the COVID-19 infection rate continues to increase, he said, schools would have to implement “blended” and “flexible” learning schemes. Allowing students to return to school without getting vaccinated would “spell disaster”, he said. “Meron po tayong tinatawag na blended learning. Ayon po kay Secretary Briones ng DepEd, gagamitin po natin ang telebisyon, radyo at internet para ipagpatuloy po ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan,” Roque said./PN “We know the virus is still there, and the possibility of its transmission remains great if there is no physical distancing,” he said. ILOILO City – This city’s Mayor Jerry Treñas and Iloilo province’s Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s similar concern over the safety of students vis-à-vis the opening of schools, and agreed with his position on the matter. “Habang wala pang bakuna at habang wala pa tayo sa new normal, ‘yung wala na pong community quarantine, hindi pa rin po tayo magkakaroon ng face-to-face classroom na mga klase,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a virtual presser. According to the mayor, he won’t actively encourage students to go to school at this time. “I have been receiving a lot of messages through my cellphone and Facebook page nga ang mga ginikanan nakulbaan,” saidTreñas. “I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit ang mga bata,” said Duterte in a public address late Monday night last week. “It is incumbent upon us, together with DepEd, nga mapungkoan ta kon ano ang ma-obra ta sa kabataan in the meantime,” said Treñas. Roque explained Duterte would only allow face-to-face classes once all areas in the country are out of all levels of community quarantine.