CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The “PADYAK! Para sa Flexible Learning: Sama-samang Vaccination” pilot program of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that aims to vaccinate college students who will soon take part in expanded limited face-to-face classes were rolled out here on Thursday, October 14.
Some 700 students of Our Lady of Fatima University-Pampanga Campus were vaccinated against Covid-19, following a batch of 800 jabbed at the Mabalacat City College the other day.
CHED Commissioner J. Prospero De Vera III said that about 180 universities and colleges with more than 20,000 students have already been authorized ever since the National Government gave the green light on the reopening of face-to-face classes for medical and allied health sciences in January.
He said that the vaccination is in preparation for the approved expansion of limited face-to-face classes to other degree programs requiring hands-on experience in higher education institutions (HEIs) under modified general community quarantine areas.
De Vera III said that the CHED, together with the National Task Force Against Covid-19, is bent on rapidly vaccinating students as this is the only way of reopening the higher education system.
“We started going around to send a message for the students to get vaccinated, and for them to encourage everyone else. That is why we are going around; we want that this coming October and November, they will be vaccinated,” he said. “Our approach is by degree programs. We classify those that will be needing face-to-face, then these will be prioritized because not all degree programs are equally situated. For example, there are degree programs where you need hands-on experience; otherwise, they won’t graduate.”
There are already 40 identified degree programs that can hold limited face-to-face classes in the fields of engineering, industrial technology, maritime and hotel and restaurant management after being given the go signal in September, the commissioner said.
Meanwhile, CHED is requiring HEIs to retrofit their campuses consistent with the minimum health requirements before the conduct of limited face-to-face classes.
“We are looking at how they would adapt their classrooms including putting directional signs, ingress and egress, and airflow. They must have a quarantine center in case the students get infected; they will do contact tracing, and they can work with the local government units (LGUs) on the quarantine hospitals,” De Vera said.
He said that the schools should also get the approval of the CHED regional office, the Department of Health, the local Inter-Agency Task Force and the LGU after the inspection of their facilities.
De Vera recognized that schools and students are showing responsibility for availing of the vaccine shots given that it is not "a required mandate."
“We did not require it in the first batch. We leave it to them to get vaccinated. It is easier for this batch now because there are available vaccines. There should be no reason why students will not get vaccinated,” he said.
De Vera stressed that the vaccines will add another layer of protection to all students, faculty and employees and will usher in a better education system in the coming year.