Student contracts virus after face-to-face orientation

THE Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, said it has issued a show cause order against Isabela Colleges for violating the prohibition on face-to-face sessions.

A student, identified by the Department of Health (DOH) Region 2 as “CV969”, tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 after attending a face-to-face school orientation on August 29. Sars-CoV-2 causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

During the budget hearing by the House of Representatives committee on appropriations Wednesday, September 16, 2020, CHEd Chairperson Prospero de Vera III said universities and colleges nationwide are not yet allowed to conduct face-to-face classes or orientations.

“But as of now, nobody is allowed to do face-to-face classes, that is why the college in Isabela that was in the news that did it, we ordered them to stop and we issued the show cause order for them to explain why they should not be penalized,” De Vera said.

In a statement, the commission said it has consistently advised higher education institutions to refrain from conducting face-to-face or in-person classes or mass gatherings in their campuses.

This has been disseminated in the print and broadcast media and in several zoom meetings with HEIs because of the Covid-19 threat.

De Vera said the agency is preparing for limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas and places under general community quarantine (GCQ), but only starting January.

He said they have completed the guidelines.

“The step that we need to do to look at prototypes on the ground on how the schools are retrofitting their facilities. I hope I can bring media along and some local governments para mayroon tayong example on how the other local universities can do it,” he said.

De Vera said several universities have already adjusted their curriculum for possible face-to-face classes in the second semester.

“So many universities are moving their classes, their laboratories, their OJTs [on the job trainings] in the second semester, in anticipation of allowing limited face-to-face in low-risk and GCQ areas,” he added.

Total enrollment in public and private HEIs for school year 2020-2021 has reached 3.4 million, according to De Vera.

Of this number, only 1.33 million students are beneficiaries of free tuition.

The commission is asking for a P50.928-million budget for 2021, including P44 million for its Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (Unifast) program which consolidates all financial assistance programs for tertiary education.

The agency is seeking P465,556 to its personal services, P1.29 million for its Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF), and P195,880 for capital outlay. (SunStar Philippines)


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