President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Jan 18 (Mabuhay) –President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to the Department of Education’s plan to expand in-person classes by February even amid the rising COVID-19 cases in the country, Malacañang said Tuesday.

“The President has no objections,” acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a press briefing, referring to the presentation made by Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Monday night.

“Again, it will be the DepEd and the DOH (Department of Health) combined who will be assessing the expansion or pilot implementation ng face-to-face classes under DepEd.”

In her presentation, Briones recommended the expansion of in-person classes in areas under Alert Level 2, provided that the host local government units agree to it and that the parents/guardians will allow the children to physically go to school.

Briones said that such in-person classes in Alert Level 2 areas will only cover teachers and non-teaching personnel vaccinated against COVID-19.

Likewise, Briones said students vaccinated against COVID-19 will be preferred.

The following areas are under Alert Level 2 until the end of the month:

Apayao

Batanes

Palawan

Puerto Princesa City

Masbate

Siquijor

Zamboanga Del Norte

Zamboanga Sibugay

Camiguin

Lanao Del Norte

Davao De Oro

Davao Occidental

Davao Oriental

North Cotabato

Sarangani

Sultan Kudarat

Dinagat Islands

Surigao del Norte

Basilan

Maguindanao

Sulu and

Tawi-Tawi

Under Alert Level 2 — the second lowest in the new alert level system — certain establishments and activities are allowed at 50% capacity indoors for fully vaccinated adults (and minors, even if unvaccinated) and 70% capacity outdoors.

The Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccination program only covers those aged 12 and above so far.

The country has been recording over 32,000 new COVID-19 cases each day for the last six days based on DOH data — an increase blamed on the highly transmissible Omicron variant. (MNS)

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