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    Duque: 'Safe' to open classes in August even without COVID-19 vaccine

    MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that it is still "safe" to resume classes in August even without a vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
    'Safe' to open classes in August even without COVID-19 vaccine

    During the hearing conducted by the Senate committee on health on Tuesday, Duque said it is safe for learners to continue their classes if the education sector and other stakeholders will ensure that minimum health standards would be followed.

    He said, "Pag-aaralan po nating maigi ito. Sa ngayon, tingin namin, ligtas naman po kung bubuksan natin ang klase by August 24. Kinakailangan po dito, siguraduhin lamang na lahat ng ating minimum standards for health ay nakatalaga."

    READ: DepEd releases school calendar for SY 2020-2021

    "Ito po 'yung physical distancing, frequent washing of the hands, disinfection ng mga silid-aralan, at sinisiguro na ang alcohol, sanitizers andiyan din po," he added.

    The health Secretary said that the Department of Education (DepEd) already has "many measures in place" to ensure that students will be safe.

    READDepEd: School opening in August does not mean physical return

    "We hope the vaccines will be available the soonest possible time. But habang wala pa, siguraduhin lang natin ang minimum health standards are met to mitigate the risks to our school children," Duque added.

    Duque's statement contradicted the earlier statement of President Rodrigo Duterte who said he opposes the opening of classes in August. The President said he would rather wait for the development of COVID-19 vaccine than resume the opening of classes.

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    Despite Duque's statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace will stand its ground that no physical classes will happen until a vaccine is available.

    "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 na mga klase," Roque said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.

    READ: Enrollment in public schools to proceed on June 1 - Palace

    — Sally, The Summit Express
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