Calls for ramped-up free COVID-19 testing, vax renewed as face-to-face classes near

November 12, 2021 - 5:29 PM
Staff of Dagat Dagatan Elementary School in Navotas City prepare the classroom and other materials needed on Sept. 16, 2021 once the government allows the resumption of face-to-face classes. (The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, file)

An alliance of student councils in the Philippines once again raised their demand for ramped-up COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 jabs and other safety measures for the proposed return to face-to-face classes.

The National Union of Students of the Philippines echoed its call on Friday, November 12 in response to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)’s earlier update on its preparations.

“Ang mga kritisismong inihain ng Unyon ay lapat mismo sa danas ng education stakeholders. Hinahamon ng Unyon ang CHED at ang Duterte administration na sila naman ang makinig sa hinaing ng mga estudyante at guro,” the group said.

It also released an infographic that juxtaposed NUSP’s demands with the guidelines CHED, the Department of Education and the Department of Health released for the safe resumption of the limited face-to-face classes.

The graphic also has a text that read: “NUSP to CHED: Marunong kaming magbasa, sana kayo marunong makinig!”

Its recommendations are:

  1. Regular and free mass testing for all education stakeholders
  2. Special vaccination program as additional safeguard for students and teachers. Vaccination is not mandatory.
  3. Retrofitting of classrooms.
  4. Mass hiring of school nurses and other medical personnel for schools.
  5. Medical fund for stakeholders who will get infected with COVID-19.

In a briefing on November 10, CHED Chair Prospero De Vera III addressed the complaints of some youth groups, including the NUSP, who perceived that the agency’s guidelines were not enough to ensure the safe return of students, teachers and school personnel.

“There is a 24-page joint CHED-DOH (Department of Health) Guidelines that contains all these requirements. I urge the groups who made the statement to read these guidelines,” he said.

De Vera also pointed out that the COVID-19 vaccination of students from higher education institutions (HEIs) had already been underway since October.

“Higher education institutions (HEIs) are already doing school-based vaccination since October 15, 2021. We are targeting November and December as vaccination months for higher education students,” he said.

Only medicine and allied health courses were previously permitted to conduct the traditional hands-on system of learning last January.

READ: Juxtaposed: Movie theaters’ partial reopening while schools remain closed as some areas shift to Alert level 3 

Then, in September, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea allowed more programs to resume their face-to-face classes.

These are:

  1. Engineering and Technology programs
  2. Hospitality/ Hotel and Restaurant Management
  3. Tourism/ Travel Management
  4. Marine Engineering
  5. Marine Transportation

DepEd, on the other hand, will implement its own pilot run of limited onsite learning for 120 participating schools on November 15.

The department is also set to conduct this in low-risk areas of COVID-19 only.

These participating schools comprise 100 public and 20 private ones.