CHED: Nationwide academic break unnecessary, 126 universities already on it

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 13 2022 03:52 PM | Updated as of Jan 13 2022 04:06 PM

123 more universities to go on academic break 

CHED Chairperson Prospero De Vera  ANC screengrab/File
CHED Chairperson Prospero De Vera answers questions during an interview with ANC, Oct. 22, 2018. ANC screengrab/File

MANILA — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Thursday said it is unnecessary for it to declare a nationwide academic because some universities took the initiative to do this as the Philippines battled a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases.

CHED chairman Chairman Prospero de Vera said that during his virtual meeting last week with the heads of some 200 schools, "126 na mga universities ang nag-declare na ng academic break start of January pa lang."

"Noong nakitang aakyat ang COVID, kahit na hindi pa nga nasa Alert Level 3, iyong ibang lugar ay nag-declare sila ng academic break," he said in a televised public briefing.

(There were 126 universities that already declared an academic break at the start of January. When they saw that COVID cases will spike, even though some areas were not yet under Alert Level 3, they declared academic breaks.)

Most of these universities are in Metro Manila and neighboring Calabarzon region, he said.

“Mayroon pang 123 universities doon sa aking meeting noong isang araw na mag-a-academic break din ngayong towards the end of January,” added the CHED chairman.

(There are 123 more universities that I met with the other day which would also go on an academic break towards the end of January.)

“Iyong panawagan ng academic break at panawagan na mag-declare ng nationwide academic break ang CHED, hindi na po kailangan ‘yan dahil kayang-kaya na ng ating mga pamantasan na gawin ‘yan on their own,” he added. 

(The call for CHED to declare a nationwide academic break is no longer necessary because universities can do that on their own.)

Video courtesy of PTV

A teachers' group on Tuesday called on the government to declare a 2-week "health break" in schools under Alert Level 3 as the country grappled with a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers made the appeal after its chapter in the National Capital Region conducted a survey among 7,448 public school teachers, which found that 55.1 percent of respondents are experiencing flu symptoms.

"Teachers and students alike are struggling to keep holding classes amid this omicron-driven surge," ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said in a statement, referring to the COVID-19 variant suspected of causing the surge.

"Either we’re sick or we’re taking care of family members who are. It’s only humane to give all of us a break amid this outbreak," he added.

The most common symptoms experienced by NCR teachers are colds (46.6 percent) and coughs (44.5 percent), ACT said, citing its survey.

ACT said teachers have also reported a drop in class participation "due to many students also having flu."

"This time should be 100 percent dedicated to getting better and thus should not be utilized for asynchronous classes nor for webinars or whatnots," Basilio said.

The Department of Education cannot declare a nationwide academic break because the COVID-19 situation varies across the country, an official said Wednesday.

The Philippines this week breached 3 million overall coronavirus infections, of which over 208,000 were active as of Wednesday.

Authorities have tightened restrictions in Metro Manila and several other areas in a bid to curb the uptick in infections.