Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says schools will remain closed until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is ready.
Without a vaccine, sending children to school “spells disaster,” Duterte said during a late-night television address on Monday.
“I will not allow the opening of classes where students will be near each other.
“Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it’s useless to be talking about opening of classes,” he said.
The Department of Education had set the opening of the school year for Aug. 24 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, three months after its traditional start in June.
But the department stressed that “school opening will not necessarily mean traditional face-to-face learning in (the) classroom.”
“The physical opening of schools will depend on the risk severity grading or classification of a locality,” it added when it announced the new school calendar.
Schools have been conducting online lessons for students who have access to computers and the internet at home.
However, this option is not available to all students, especially those in remote areas.
Some parents have turned to home-schooling their children, with the help of instructions from the schools.
There have been 14,319 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines as of Monday, including 873 deaths, according to the Department of Health.
Metro Manila and high-risk areas for infections are under relaxed lockdown until May 31, which has allowed some industries and establishments, such as malls, to resume limited operations.