No memo yet on COVID-19 vaccine waiver, CHED-6 says

By John Noel E. Herrera

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in Western Visayas on Tuesday, Aug 31, 2022, said it has yet to receive word on the dropping of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students and personnel who will attend the face-to-face classes in different universities and colleges.

But in a radio interview, CHED-6 director Dr. Raul Alvarez clarified that the pronouncement of their central office on waiving the vaccine mandate is still executory despite the lack of a memorandum.

“Ang aton nga chairperson (J. Prospero) de Vera, kahapon nag-announce na nga ang vaccination hindi na issue sa eskwelahan, so both vaccinated and unvaccinated students, pwede na sila maka-attend sa face-to-face classes sa ila respective tertiary educational institutions. Gina hulat naton ang formal nga memo but as of this point in time, we’ve been told that it is executory,” Alvarez said.

(Our chairperson, de Vera announced yesterday that vaccination is not already an issue at schools, so both vaccinated and unvaccinated students can already attend their face-to-face classes in their respective tertiary educational institutions. We are just waiting for the formal memo, but as of this point in time, we’ve been told that it is executory.)

Alvares also said that the vaccination rate of teachers and students in Western Visayas is higher compared to the national average as declared by CHED.

Data indicated that 90 percent of teachers in the country were already vaccinated, while in Western Visayas alone, 93 percent of teachers were already inoculated.

According to CHED, 87 percent of college students in Western Visayas were also vaccinated, higher than the 77 percent national average.

Alvares added that they already met with all presidents of tertiary educational institutions in the region to disseminate and properly implement the vaccine rule.

Meanwhile, CHED-6 said that they would just let the universities and colleges in the region decide when they would implement full in-person classes.

Alvarez also reminded everyone to get vaccinated and still follow the minimum health standards to prevent being infected by COVID-19.

He added that they will conduct monitoring of proper health protocols in different universities and colleges to ensure the safety of the students and all the personnel.

The Department of Health (DOH) also supported the pronouncement of the CHED to allow unvaccinated students and personnel to participate in face-to-face classes.

DOH officer-in-charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire said that face-to-face classes would help improve the academic performances, mental health, and well-being of students, as well as enhance their social engagement skills.

The CHED on Monday, Aug 30, said that college students and personnel are allowed to participate in face-to-face classes regardless of their vaccination status.

CHED chairperson Prospero de Vera III also explained that among the considerations for updating their guidelines for in-person classes include the “high” vaccination coverage in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the low-risk classification for COVID-19 in the country, and the decreasing COVID-19 infections for all age groups.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has also allowed unvaccinated students to attend face-to-face classes, and teachers to teach in classrooms during the resumption of in-person classes on Aug 22.