The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is mulling the possibility of issuing a “safety seal” to schools that have been approved to hold limited face-to-face classes – or even those that will be allowed to do so in the future.
“Pinag-uusapan namin sa commission iyan, gagawa tayo ng safety seal na lahat ng eskwelahan na papayagang mag-face-to-face, puwedeng lagyan noon (We’re currently discussing this within the commission, we we will make a safety seal so we can put this in schools that were allowed to hold face-to-face [classes],” CHED Chairman Popoy De Vera said this in a virtual press briefing on June 17.
The “safety seal,” De Vera said, will be an indication that the higher education institution (HEI) is compliant with the health protocols set by the government amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country.
De Vera said that the “safety seal” certifications will be granted to universities and colleges that were – or will be – allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes. This, he added, will help ensure that the school is “safe” for both faculty members and students.
Meanwhile, De Vera said a more detailed set of guidelines might be needed as the government allows the conduct of limited face-to-face classes to HEIs that have been approved by CHED.
“We need to make detailed guidelines for the joint monitoring by CHED and of the local governments so we can be sure that the standards are being met,” he explained in a mix of English and Filipino.
Currently, only 73 HEIs offering medicine and health allied sciences have been allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes.
Aside from medicine, limited face-to-face classes were also allowed for nursing, medical technology, physical therapy, and other medical-related degree programs.
The conduct of limited in-person classes started in January this year after CHED got the approval of President Duterte.
In a televised public briefing on June 16, De Vera said that there has been no recorded COVID-19 infection in Metro Manila schools since limited face-to-face classes among its students were allowed.
De Vera said that among the first HEIs to hold limited face-to-face classes are the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine and Our Lady of Fatima University. “There has been zero COVID-19 infection in their face-to-face classes,” he said. This, he added, is because many students who are attending these classes have been vaccinated against COVID-19 already.
However, De Vera noted that there is one case of COVID-19 infection reported in Region VIII (Eastern Visayas).
Based on the CHED and DOH joint guidelines, he noted that the conduct of limited face-to-face classes in schools with reported infection should be stopped immediately.
CHED’s regional office, De Vera said, is still trying to find out what might have caused the COVID-19 infection in the region.
Meanwhile, De Ver said that CHED is also planning to expand the conduct of limited face-to-face classes to other degree programs such as Engineering, Information Technology and Maritime Programs but this “would depend on the data” coming from the first batch.
“If we see that the students can be safe, I will go to the President and ask for his permission to expand the limited face-to-face classes to other degree programs as well,” he added.