CHED to critics of its limited face-to-face policy: ‘Read the guidelines’

Published November 11, 2021, 4:38 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Popoy De Vera asked the critics of the limited face-to-face classes policy of the commission to first read the guidelines that have been issued early this year.

Commission on Higher Education Chairman Popoy De Vera (Photo from CHED)

De Vera said this as a response to a unity statement issued by various groups calling on the national government – particularly the Department of Education (DepEd) and CHED – to “build confidence for safe school reopening” by ensuring that key health protection measures are in place.

“There is a 24-page joint CHED-DOH Guidelines that contains all these requirements,” De Vera said in a message to reporters on Nov. 10.

“I urge the groups who made the statement to read these guidelines,” he added.

In February this year, CHED and the Department of Health (DOH) issued the joint guidelines for the gradual resumption of limited face-to-face classes at the tertiary level.


CHED, DOH issue guidelines for limited face-to-face classes at the tertiary level

In a Unity Statement issued by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), Agham, Coalition for People’s Right to Health, National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates-Youth, Amihan, Salinlahi, Gabriela, Katribu Youth, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, ACT Teachers Partylist, Kabataan Partylist, and Anakpawis Partylist on Nov. 10, the groups outlined some demands to “expand and speed up students’ safe return” to campuses.

Among these demands include a weekly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) antigen testing to screen all learners, teachers, and staff who will participate in in-classroom learning and a special vaccination program in areas where schools that will participate in the pilot run of face-to-face classes are located.

The groups also said that retrofitting of classrooms is a must to “ensure better ventilation, with each having a minimum of two functional electric fans, and air conditioned rooms having air filters.”

Additionally, both CHED and DepEd should push for mass hiring of school nurses and the availability of medical funds for free treatment of those who will get infected with COVID-19. However, De Vera said that “many of the concerns raised in the statement are already part of the limited face-to-face policy of CHED.”

In particular, De Vera said that “only vaccinated students and school personnel are allowed to do limited face-to-face classes.”

He added that higher education institutions (HEIs) are already doing school-based vaccination since Oct. 15.

Citing latest data, De Vera said that more than one million tertiary students have already received at least the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.


CHED: Over 1M college students vaccinated vs COVID-19

When it comes to the requirement for antigen testing, De Vera said that it is “already being discussed” with local government units (LGUs). This, he added, was also “thoroughly discussed in my meeting with Metro Manila mayors recently.”

The matter of COVID-19 antigen testing for the participants of limited face-to-face classes in higher education, De Vera said, is also “being tackled” in a Technical Working Group (TWG).

On the issue of retrofitting, De Vera said that this is required in all HEIs that apply for limited face-to-face classes.

“Retrofitting is not just adding electric fans in a classroom,” De Vera said.

“It includes spacing of seats, equipment and all areas where there is foot traffic; separate entrance and exits; assessment of ventilation in all facilities, directional signs, and instructions in all rooms,” he added.


CHED to critics of face-to-face classes: ‘Do not overreact please’