CHED: Correct decision in in-person Medicine classes

MANILA – Less than 1 percent or only “0.3 percent” of students and faculty members who attended in-person classes for Medicine and related courses have tested positive for COVID-19, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said on Friday. 

CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera said the data consist 41 out of 9,700 students who tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 15 out of over 1,000 faculty members who also contracted the disease.

All have already recovered, according to De Vera.

He said the relatively low infection in schools was due to the strict compliance to guidelines and health protocols. 

“Sa paniniwala ko, sa paniniwala ng CHED, mas health conscious iyong mga degree programs na iyan kasi kasama sa pag-aaral nila ang health,” De Vera said in a virtual presser.

(We believe that the small number of infections was due to the health consciousness of the said programs. Health protocols are already integrated in their studies)

The COVID-19 vaccination of students and personnel also “raised the level of safety” in schools that gradually reopened, he added.

The commission likewise observed that they made the “correct decision” to start limited face-to-face classes in Medicine and allied courses.

“As it is being shown, iyong mga ospital kasi na pupuntahan ng maraming clinical interns, safe already kasi mahigpit ang protocol sa ospital,” according to the official.

(The hospitals where many clinical interns went to were safe due to the strict protocols involved)

He added that interns were also able to help boost manpower in hospitals, since their schools opened their facilities as vaccination sites.

To date, 118 higher education institutions (HEIs) have been allowed to conduct limited face-to-face classes in Medicine and allied courses.

A total of 76 percent of students attending in-person classes have been vaccinated, while 96 percent of faculty members were also fully immunized from the respiratory disease.

De Vera said inspection of schools began in December 2020, while the memorandum approving limited face to face classes was released in January this year.

CHED is waiting for the response of President Rodrigo Duterte on the proposal to hold limited in-person classes for engineering, maritime and human resource management (HRM) courses.

De Vera said schools may start retrofitting their facilities for these degree programs if they want to apply for the gradual reopening of classes.

“Iyong ibang schools, akala nila pag nag-retrofit ka magastos. Sabi ko, hindi po. Akala nila pag nag-retrofit, may engineering retrofitting. Sabi ko, ibig sabihin lang ng retrofit, how do you retrofit your facilities to make it safe for students, faculty, and administrators,” the official said.

(Other schools said they retrofitting facilities would be expensive. We beg to differ, you need to retrofit facilities to make it safe to everyone)

“So it’s not expensive, hindi iyong magre-redesigning ka, magco-construction ka,” he explained.

Schools may coordinate with CHED on their intent to reopen for the said degree programs. The commission, LGU, and health officials will then inspect their retrofitted facilities.

De Vera also asked the educational institutions to use the revised curriculum for flexible learning.

The official reiterated that the conduct of face-to-face classes is not mandatory.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities shifted to flexible learning, where students study from their homes through a blend of online (virtual classes) and offline (modules and other printed materials) methods.

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