By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Announcement PH

Malacañang said Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte once again rejected the recommendation for a pilot test of face-to-face learning as the Philippines has yet to start its vaccination program against COVID-19.

"Nagdesisyon na po ang Presidente, wala pa rin po tayong face-to-face classes sa bansa," said Palace Spokesman Harry Roque during his televised press briefing

"Ayaw niyang malagay sa panganib o alanganin ang buhay ng ating mga mag-aaral o guro habang wala pa pong nababakunahan sa bansa,” Roque added.

During the same briefing, Roque said Duterte mulls bringing back in-person classes after the launch of COVID-19 inoculation drive.

"Sabi niya, may awa ang Panginoon, baka naman po pagkatapos nating malunsad ang ating vaccination program, e pupuwede na tayong mag-face-to-face sa Agosto, lalong-lalo na sa mga lugar na mababa ang COVID cases," he said.

The government was supposed to implement a pilot test of in-person modality but Duterte later rejected the proposal due to detection of more infectious coronavirus variant in some parts of the country.

Earlier, Education Secretary Leonor Briones cited a survey which showed “more than 50 percent” of learners backed attending face-to-face classes. She added a “significant portion” of teachers also want to implement in-person learning while parents are still undecided.

Briones said prolonged closure of schools may have an impact on students’ psychosocial welfare.

In the past weeks, various groups have called on the government to safely reopen schools and conduct in-person classes, saying that the current distance learning setup is no longer feasible due to several issues faced by students, parents, and teachers.

Officials have previously said the country is set to receive initial batches of vaccines this month, with a target of 70 million individuals who will receive anti-COVID jabs.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. has apologized for the delayed arrival of the country's initial supply of vaccines as several other countries have already rolled out their respective inoculation programs.

As of Monday, the Philippines logged 563,456 new cases, 522,874 recovered patients, and 12,094 mortalities.