The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) should ensure that precautions are in place before the reopening of limited face-to-face classes, a union of students said.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) expressed concerns regarding the safety of the recommendation made by CHED to allow limited face-to-face classes in select schools.
“We have been clamoring for the safe resumption of classes, this is only feasible if the government presents a comprehensive medical solution to flatten the curve and to reduce the viral transmission,” NUSP National President Jandeil Roperos said.
Earlier, President Duterte approved the dry-run of limited physical classes in low-risk areas – particularly in schools catering to medical programs such as University of the Philippines-Manila, Ateneo De Manila University, and Our Lady of Fatima University.
This decision is upon the recommendation of CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera IIIto allow conduct of have limited face-to-face classes within higher education institutions in medicine and allied health sciences in areas under Modified General Community Quarantine and in General Community Quarantine (GCQ) areas particularly where the students go into COVID-19 hospitals.
However, NUSP said that precautions should be in place first. “They must strictly implement minimum health standards in school, increase the budget for education to fund new school infrastructures such as spacious classrooms and health facilities,” Roperos said. “More teachers and healthcare personnel must be hired to minimize the teacher: student ratio and to ensure that health protocols and standards are implemented,” she added.
For NUSP, if the plan to have health students return to physical classes will proceed, CHED should “formulate proactive plans” first instead of letting the students go against the virus that ravaged the country without proper and sufficient protection.
Although CHED has reportedly ensured that all of these aspects for resuming limited physical classes will be handled, NUSP maintained that “free mass testing, as well as free mass vaccination, must be readily available” in every campus.
“Education and health are two basic rights that every student must have without having to compromise one for the other,” Roperos said. Thus, NUSP remains firm in its stand that a “comprehensive medical approach to the pandemic” will ultimately pave the way towards the safe reopening of physical classes.