Despite the imposition of community quarantine status, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said that the face-to-face clinical rotation of clinical clerks and post-graduate or medical interns - as well as limited in-person learning - will continue.
Chairman Popoy De Vera, in a statement issued Sept. 17, said that these clinical rotations, however, will push through “subject to the guidelines” that will be issued by the CHED and the Department of Health (DOH).
De Vera said that this move is pursuant to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 138 released on Sept. 9.
The decision aims to ensure that there will be “additional frontliners in hospitals without compromising the safety of the interns” since they will not be rotated in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) areas or units.
De Vera cited CHED and DOH issued on Sept. 16, the Article IV-B of CHED-DOH JMC No. 2021-001, series of 2021 or the “Guidelines on the Gradual Reopening of Campuses of higher education institutions (HEIs) for limited face-to-face classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For HEIs located in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ), CHED may give them authority to conduct limited face-to-face classes during the COVID-19 pandemic,” De Vera said.
However, he clarified that this will be subjected to compliance with this CHED-DOH JMC and the existing policies as well as other considerations.
For HEIs to be allowed to continue face-to-face clinical rotation of clinical clerks and post-graduate or medical interns, De Vera said that they should have “submitted their applications” to the concerned CHED Regional Offices (CHEDROs).
The HEIs, he added, should be are offering any of the priority health-related degree programs and courses or subjects; and “they have base hospital/s catering to COVID 19 patients.”
Meanwhile, De Vera noted for HEIs offering medical education programs located in areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), GCQ with Heightened Restrictions, CHED may give them authority to conduct “limited face-to-face classes during the COVID-19 pandemic subject to compliance” with the JMC and the existing policies as stated.
HEIs that will be allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes should submit their applications to the concerned CHEDROs and they shey have base hospital/s catering to COVID-19 patients.
“Medical clerks and postgraduate/medical interns shall NOT be allowed to rotate in the emergency room, out-patient department, and COVID wards, but only be allowed to rotate in non-COVID units (including non-COVID operating rooms and ICU), telemedicine hub and the Bayanihan Na Operations Center (if applicable),” De Vera explained.
Likewise, De Vera noted that “only fully vaccinated medical clerks and postgraduate/medical interns shall be allowed while unvaccinated clerks/interns shall continue with the flexible learning modality and may take face-to-face classes if the area is reclassified to MGCQ/GCQ.”
De Vera said that for HEIs already issued authority by CHED to conduct limited face-to-face classes, “the same will serve as authority to conduct limited face-to-face classes in areas under ECQ, MECQ and GCQ with Heightened Restrictions, subject to the same conditions and obligations.”
Moreover, he added that the limited face-to-face classes of medical clerks and postgraduate/medical interns in base hospitals “shall not be affected” by the implementation of granular lockdowns in any barangay, municipality, city or province.
As of Aug. 27, CHED a total of 118 HEIs have been allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes in medical and allied health sciences.
Aside from medical and allied health sciences, CHED also eyes the expansion of limited face-to-face classes to other degree programs.