THE Association of Colleges and Universities in Negros Occidental (Acuno) will strictly comply with the moratorium imposed by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) on the field trips and educational tours of all public and private colleges and universities in the country, its official said.

Lawyer John Orola, public information officer of Acuno, told Sun.Star Bacolod on Tuesday that Ched’s directive would lessen, or eliminate, all the risks involving the students.

The Ched en banc ordered the temporary suspension of all higher education institution (HEI) trips Tuesday, a day after the bus incident in Tanay, Rizal which claimed 15 lives and left at least 30 others injured, including college students bound for a field trip for their National Service Training Program (NSTP) subject.

Orola said it is the main responsibility of the school management to always prioritize the safety of the students and its personnel by considering factors like transportation, food and parents’ permission, among others.

“The association will see to it that all its member-schools in the province will strictly enforce the moratorium,” Orola said, adding that it is imperative for colleges and universities to ensure safe and conducive learning environment for students.

Ched called for the moratorium until the investigation on the bus tragedy is completed.

Commissioner Prospero de Vera, in a report, said that while the suspension takes effect they are advising HEIs to develop options as alternative activities to field trips and educational tours.

"We must determine if higher education institutions comply with requirements of safety and whether current policies adequately protect students," De Vera said.

In Negros Occidental, Orola said there are instances where students consider field trips as a “make-believe” policy, or a requirement for graduation.

There might be students holding activities outside the school without their adviser’s consent, he added.

Orola said there are also some schools that would conduct these trips for the purpose of really providing appropriate learning-experience to the students.

“Thus, we are urging all school-members to impose policies regulating the conduct of school-related activities outside their premises,” the Acuno official added.

The Department of Education in Negros Island Region (DepEd-NIR) clarified that they do not totally prohibit, but discourage field trips especially among public elementary and high schools.

Gilbert Sadsad, regional director of DepEd-NIR, Tuesday said there is no written order yet from the central office on prohibiting field trips.

“We do not want to be over reactive after the recent bus incident,” Sadsad said, although he discourages such activities as these require additional expenses.

Under his watch, the DepEd-NIR has already disapproved several requests, he added.

“Whenever field trips are allowed, school principals are instructed to make sure that waivers are signed by the students and their respective parents,” Sadsad further said.