The head of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) believes Metro Manila is a "prime candidate" in the commission's plan to allow all degree programs to hold limited in-person classes.
During the vaccination of NCAA student athletes at the Jose Rizal University in Mandaluyong, CHED Chairman Popoy De Vera said two factors must be considered in this plan: high vaccination rate and low incidence of COVID cases in the area where the school is located.
"I think there's a big opportunity to test limited face to face (classes) in all degree programs in Metro Manila because the vaccination rate is already high. We have reached the threshold for Metro Manila. We're more than 80 percent already, and it's going up every single day as the LGUs keep on vaccinating people," he said.
"Proportionally, therefore, the students in Metro Manila will have a higher vaccination rate compared to the other areas. Pero mababa pa iyong students sa Metro Manila kasi kasisimula pa lang nila. Pero iyong A1 to A5 sa Metro Manila, mataas na iyan... Once the vaccination rates are high, and COVID incidence in Metro Manila continues to go down, and the local governments and the schools talk to each other, then we can explore the options already in Metro Manila."
He said that instead of asking if vaccination will be required for college students who will opt to return to physical classes, the focus should be on fast-tracking the vaccination of all students.
"Mandatory vaccination assumes that there is vaccine hesitancy. On the ground, I have not seen vaccine hesitancy in schools. In fact, in all the schools I went to, the number of students who signed is always more than the vaccines for that day," De Vera said.
NTF chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the government fully supports the inoculation of all college students, adding that they are ready to supply vaccine doses to higher education institutions in need.
De Vera said last week the CHED plans to begin limited face-to-face classes in all degree programs for low-risk areas in January, as a team of experts is crafting guidelines for the said move.