CHED gives go-signal for varsity teams to return to training

Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2021 01:06 PM | Updated as of Dec 13 2021 06:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Student-athletes may now resume in-person training, as the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Health (DOH) ink a memorandum detailing the guidelines of collegiate athletic training amid the COVID pandemic.

This comes after almost two years since face-to-face training was halted in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Present during the signing of the memorandum on Monday are CHED chairman Popoy De Vera, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and officials from UAAP and NCAA.

Based on the guidelines, student-athletes who will participate in the trainings must be fully-vaccinated. They will also be placed in a bubble, and will stay there for the duration of the training.

"Generally, the protocols for the sports training is the same protocols that we have for the limited face-to-face classes. Observance of minimum health protocols, the retrofitting of facilities, vaccinated students and faculty," De Vera said.

"Then ensuring that, if somebody gets sick, there are protocols in terms of the committee that will look into it, health professionals in the school that will check on the condition of the student-athletes or coaches, etc. Contact tracing, referral to local government," he added.

COVID testing is not a requirement for student-athletes, and depends upon strategies of schools.

Schools under UAAP and NCAA will still conduct antigen and RT-PCR tests for the student-athletes as precautionary measure.

"Hindi nila ma-require, to be fair to all member-schools. However, as mentioned kanina, that's one thing that we're imposing. Kaya lang medyo costly siya, even for our context," explained Atty. Rebo Saguisag, executive director of the UAAP.

"What we're doing is alternate, parang antigen, antigen, on the third week it will be RT-PCR. Pero hindi siya mawawala, andoon siya, and this has been insisted upon by our biosecurity officer. Talagang standards are higher than those imposed by the JMC (Joint Memorandum Circular)."

NCAA chairman Manuel Castellano said he hopes to begin competitions by March 2022.

"We've been waiting for this... This is our passion, this is what we love to do. And at least we're a step closer to the resumption of competition," he said.

As schools gradually resume in-person classes and trainings, Duque said health officials and experts are closely monitoring the threat of the omicron variant, and assured that it has not yet been detected in the country.