MANILA— The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Wednesday it was in talks with local government units (LGUs) over the possibility of requiring antigen COVID-19 testing for students attending limited in-person classes.
"The requirement for antigen testing is already being discussed with LGUs and was thoroughly discussed in my meeting with Metro Manila mayors recently," CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera told reporters in a Viber message.
"It is being tackled in a [technical working group]," he added.
De Vera was reacting to a "unity statement" issued by various groups, which called on CHED and the Department of Education to conduct weekly COVID-19 testing for students and personnel attending in-person classes.
The groups also called on education agencies to hold special vaccination in areas where schools are holding in-person classes, retrofit classrooms to ensure better ventilation, hire more school nurses, and provide funding for the treatment of those who would get COVID-19.
The statement was signed by groups such as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, National Union of Students of the Philippines, Coalition for People's Rights to Health, Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns and Kabataan Party-list, among others.
De Vera said most of the concerns raised by the groups were already part of CHED's policy in conducting in-person or face-to-face classes.
"Only vaccinated students and school personnel are allowed to do limited face-to-face classes," he said, noting that higher education institutions (HEIs) have been doing school-based vaccinations since mid-October.
"Retrofitting is required in all HEIs that apply for limited face-to-face," he added.
De Vera said CHED was targeting having November and December as "vaccination months for higher education students."
He noted that more than a million or nearly 30 percent of students in higher education have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
HEIs have been allowed to hold limited in-person classes for select programs since early this year.
Last year, colleges and universities shifted to remote learning after face-to-face classes were banned due to the pandemic.
CHED earlier announced that HEIs may hold limited physical classes with up to 50-percent capacity for all degree programs in areas under Alert Level 2.