MANILA, June 22 (Mabuhay) — Even as the Philippines breached the 8 million mark of administered doses of Covid-19 vaccine, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he would not “gamble” school children’s health by allowing the resumption of face-to-face (F2F) classes.

In his pre-recorded meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and some Cabinet members in Davao City, Duterte thumbed down the proposal of the Department of Education (DepEd) to resume F2F classes even in areas with low risk of Covid-19 transmission, citing the threat posed by the Delta coronavirus variant (B1617).

“Dito sa face-to-face (This face-to-face classes), I think I am not inclined to agree with you. I’m sorry but mahirap (it’s difficult). I… I cannot… I cannot gamble on the health of the children. I hope you’d understand,” he told DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones who attended the meeting via Zoom.

Briones, for her part, said her department fully accepts Duterte’s decision and acknowledged that it is best to abide by the professional knowledge of the medical experts.

‘Very well-informed decision’

“There is really no problem, Mr. President,” Briones said.

She also assured that the DepEd will stay prepared for the possible reopening of classes just in case Covid-19 cases decrease.

Briones described Duterte’s decision to reject the resumption of in-person classes as a “very well-informed” decision.

“Listening to the briefing and listening to your decision, we don’t have any reservations because we all know the effect, especially the idea, Mr. President of having our children vaccinated because we are told our children are now more prone and perhaps are vulnerable and we would not want to risk 27 million children,” she said.

Following Duterte’s decision, Briones said DepEd would use technology to deliver classes for the upcoming school year.

For the school year 2020 to 2021 which opened in October 2020, the DepEd conducted classes through online learning, modular learning, TV and radio-based instruction, and blended learning which is a combination of two or more methods of learning.

Health experts earlier warned that new coronavirus variants were affecting more children.

National Task Force against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said half of the 40 million Covid-19 vaccines developed by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer will be used for children under the 12 to 15 age bracket. (MNS)