Mayor Duterte still nixes regular face-to-face classes

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 May) — Mayor Sara Duterte revealed Monday that she is still not considering the resumption of regular face-to-face classes, fearing the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city will further rise.

She made the announcement during her program aired over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5).

Earlier, the Department of Education floated the possibility of allowing limited face-to-face classes for school year 2021-2022 in some parts of the country.

However, Duterte said her disapproval of the regular in-campus classes is not absolute as her judgment is based on the current trend of COVID-19 cases, and that she could not predict with certainty how many people will get vaccinated when the next school year opens.

“As of today, definitely it’s a no because we’re heading for a surge,” she said.

But she noted that the local government may allow limited face-to-face or in-campus attendance if recommended by health experts.

Section 19 of Executive Order 12 dated March 12 provides that face-to-face or in-person classes shall be prohibited from kindergarten to post-graduate level until a new order shall be issued to lift the ban.

It added that limited face-to-face or in-person attendance for higher educational institutions and post-graduate courses is allowed for purposes of examinations and laboratory learning, provided that the distancing of not less than one meter between individuals is strictly observed. It said gathering for eating, meeting or group practice is strictly prohibited.

“We will only allow it if it’s a requirement or doctor-recommended but if it’s not part of a therapy or part of the doctor’s recommendation, we do not allow it as of now. We would like to ensure that our youth is protected,” she said.

Dr. Ashley Lopez, acting head of the City Health Office, confirmed on May 5 that the Davao Medical School Foundation and Brokenshire College Inc. manifested their intention to pursue limited face-to-face classes for students enrolled in their medical courses.

Lopez added that face-to-face activities will be strictly limited to laboratory learnings and examinations of students.

As of May 16, the Department of Health-Davao reported 160 new cases, bringing the total cases to 25,006, with 1,620 active, 22,365 recoveries and 1,021 deaths in the region.

Out of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, tallied 15,304 cases, with 709 active, 13,886 recoveries and 709 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 1,717 COVID-19 cases, Davao del Norte with 4,556, Davao del Sur with 1,662, Davao Occidental with 246 and Davao Oriental with 1,521.