CHED seeks inclusion of higher education workers, students in COVID-19 vaccination

Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 27 2021 08:18 PM

CHED seeks inclusion of higher education workers, students in COVID-19 vaccination 1
A registered teacher wearing a face mask and shield as a precaution against COVID-19 gestures in front of a computer as she and dozens other teachers conduct a teleconference with struggling students, helping them in their school lessons at a local government-sanctioned online tutorial class in Taguig City on March 3, 2021. Ted Aljibe, AFP/file

MANILA - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Thursday it is working out an "exchange deal" with local government units to include higher education workers and students in their vaccination rollout, as more universities and colleges offer their facilities as inoculation sites. 

In a press conference, CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera said he is hoping that the deal would push through so more universities and programs would be allowed to have face-to-face classes. 

"Universities will offer their facilities as vaccination centers, baka naman pwedeng isama nang i-vaccinate iyong mga other personnel in the university, mga estudyante," he explained. 

(Maybe we can include students and university personnel in their vaccination rollout)

On May 20, the commission said 34 higher education institutions (HEIs) offered their facilities to local governments as additional vaccination centers. 

De Vera pointed out, however, that talks on the students' vaccination would depend on the availability of vaccines in the country. 

"As more vaccines come in, we will now continuously push na isama na iyong mga estudyante sa babakunahan. So that we can design what is the appropriate intervention. In the US, the discussion now is to require vaccination before classes open. So we're looking at other countries, iba-iba iyong approach ng iba-ibang bansa (other countries have different approach)" he said. 

Face-to-face classes 

Programs that heavily require practical and hands-on activities should be prioritized in the gradual and safe reopening of face-to-face classes in higher education, according to the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP). 

NUSP President Jandeil Roperos said these include programs with laboratory work, like Biology, Engineering, Information Technology, and courses in the humanities, like Media Studies, Communication, and Research. 

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Roperos added that students taking up these programs have been struggling with learning solely through online classes.

"Isa sa mga nabanggit during consultations ay nahihirapan sila paano i-apply iyong kanilang mga theoretical na nalalaman kung hindi naman nila nararanasan iyong on ground or actual setup," she explained. 

(One of the things they mentioned during the consultations was how difficult it was to apply theories into practice, most especially they do not have any actual setup)

"Paano na kapag papasok na sila sa work force? Paano nila ia-apply iyong theoretical na natutunan nila kung kulang iyong mga nalalaman nila sa actual o on-hand na experience?" 

(What will happen once they enter the work force? How will they apply theories into practice if they were not able to practice it?) 

CHED said recommending more programs to conduct limited face-to-face classes depends on the data that they would get from the first batch of 64 colleges and universities that have been allowed to conduct such. 

This includes medicine and allied programs. 

"There's good news and bad news. In UP College of Medicine and Our Lady of Fatima, iyong first two months ng kanilang limited face to face, zero transmission. Pero may mga region din na merong transmission, hindi na natin sasabihin kasi baka ma-agitate ang mga tao," explained De Vera. 

(The UP College of Medicine and Our Lady of Fatima were not able to record any cases in their first 2 months but some regions had transmissions but we will not name them because people might be agitated)

"So doon sa areas na may transmission, tigil muna iyong face-to-face. Pag-aralan nasaan ang transmission, i-correct ito. If this proceeds for maybe another two months, we should be ready to start looking into the next batch," he pointed out.

(Those who had virus transmissions had to stop their face-to-face classes. We will study where the transmission was and correct it.)

Meanwhile, Roperos reiterated their group's call to CHED to provide gadgets and internet access to students. 

She also disputed De Vera's statement in a press conference last Monday that it is "alarming" that "many still don't understand flexible learning or, worse, some refuse to understand it because they have a political agenda to push for." 

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"Dini-dismiss niya iyong actual, factual, and on-ground experiences ng mga estudyante sa kahirapan ng distance learning by telling us we are blind and we do not understand what flexible learning is... Hindi applicable iyong blanket policy ng flexible learning para sa lahat," said Roperos. 

(He is dismissing the actual, factual and on ground experiences of the students during this distance learning period... Their blanket policy is not working and not applicable for everyone)

Last Monday, De Vera stressed that flexible learning does not equate to online learning, as there are other types of learning methods in the said scheme, like using modules and limited face to face classes for medical programs. 

"Flexible learning is very simple. It is a policy where you allow the universities the authority to determine the correct mix of delivery systems, appropriate to the condition on the ground, to the condition of students, faculty members and employees," he said.

Under flexible learning, which was implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Philippine colleges and universities carry out learning through a mix of online (virtual classes) and offline methods (modules and other printed materials).

Many students and teachers have complained of unreliable internet connectivity and excessive workload due to the new mode of instruction.