MANILA - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Tuesday ordered a college based in Cauayan City, Isabela to immediately shut down its face-to-face classes after one of its students tested positive for COVID-19.
CHED chairman Prospero de Vera said in a statement that health officials identified the student as CV969, who reportedly attended an orientation for post-baccalaureate students that was conducted by a higher education institution (HEI) on Aug. 29.
According to De Vera, the CHED's office in Cagayan Valley confirmed that Isabela Colleges started conducting its series of orientations on Aug. 29 and that CV969, who is an employee of the Cauayan city government, is taking professional education courses in the educational institution.
Isabela Colleges confirmed on Saturday it conducted classes for its continuing professional education (CPE) program in order to serve as "orientation sessions," said De Vera.
According to the CHED chair, health officials have been tracing up to 45 people who were exposed or had contact with the infected student due to the incident.
“The CHED Advisories have consistently advised HEIs 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 considering the threat of community transmission due to the mass gathering of students," De Vera said.
"The CHED has not issued any policy to allow face-to-face classes, and the IATF clearly states that limited face-to-face classes in low-risk MGCQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) areas must comply with CHED guidelines," he said.
Last August, the CHED said it was looking into the conduct of limited in-person classes in areas classified as low-risk MGCQ areas by January.
De Vera said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) adopted a policy that face-to-face classes in the lowest classification of community quarantine, but the learning sessions however need to comply with health protocols, and its guidelines set by the commission and local governments.
The CHED will issue a show cause order on Isabela Colleges' alleged violations.
"Under Section 17 of BP (Batasan Pambansa) 232, every school shall be accountable for the efficient and effective administration and management of the school and assume and maintain professional behavior in his work and in dealing with students, teachers, academic non-teaching personnel, administrative staff, and parents or guardians," De Vera said.
"In case of failure to comply with the condition or obligations prescribed by this Code (BP 232) or its implementing rules and regulations, gross inefficiency of the teaching or non-teaching personnel, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, now CHED, may prescribe and impose such administrative sanctions as he may deem reasonable and appropriate in the implementing rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to BP 232.
"CHED will therefore issue a show cause order for the institution, giving them a period of 10 days from now why no sanctions should be imposed upon its officials, teaching or non-teaching personnel for its failure to comply with CHED’s directives/advisories and therefore maintain professional behavior in dealing with its students and be accountable for the efficient and effective administration and management of the school," he said.
In-person classes were prohibited last March due to the continuing threat of the novel coronavirus, which has infected over nearly 270,000 in the Philippines.
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