January 29, 2023

As schools attempt to resume face-to- face classes, the Commission on Higher Education joined other agencies of the government in encouraging the public, especially students, to get vaccinated.

In Baguio, CHED Commissioner Lilian De Las Llagas last Nov. 11 attended the University of Baguio’s UBakuna drive, the university’s campaign to boost vaccination confidence among its students, non-teaching personnel, and faculty members.

UB President Javier Herminio Bautista said the university is planning on resuming a new form of hybrid classes by January 2022 but they first have to ensure that 100 percent of the students, personnel, and faculty members are fully vaccinated.

The CHED set that at least 80 percent of the population of higher learning institutions (HLIs) should be fully vaccinated.

“If you want face-to-face classes, get vaccinated. We do not want you to bring home the virus when face-to-face classes resume,” Bautista said in a speech during the ceremonial vaccination of students.

He said the school is trying to avoid the possibility that students might transmit the Covid-19 virus on members of their household or boarding houses, especially those who cannot be vaccinated like children below 12 years old and those with severe allergic reaction to vaccines.

De Las Llagas said part of boosting interest in vaccination is for the academe to clarify to their employees about vaccines misconceptions and conspiracy theories about vaccines.

De Las Llagas, who has a Master’s degree in Tropical Medicine, said vaccines are a preventive strategy to inhibit the spread of a disease. She said vaccines are not curative or rehabilitative and under normal circumstances take at least 10 years to develop because of the research and clinical trials needed to come up with a vaccine with high efficacy.

However, she said while the vaccines currently available are still on clinical trials, the public already has a certain level of protection. “Kailangang mabakunahan ang kaguruhan, mag-aaral, at mga kawani. More vaccination, more protection, higher immunity,” De Las Llagas said.

UB Vice President for Academic Affairs Janice Lonogan said the school is preparing for the anticipated expansion of face-to-face classes in 2022.

Among the things they are considering are the retrofitting of classrooms compliant to the minimum health standards and CHED memorandums, survey of fully vaccinated students, consent of parents, courses to be offered apart from those already recommended by the CHED, and preparedness of students and faculty members for hybrid classes.

The proposed face-to-face classes will involve simultaneous holding of classes where a certain number of students will be in the classroom physically while the others will be online. The number of students will depend on the alert level classification of the area where the school is located.

Lonogan said initial survey done on 3,500 student-respondents showed that only one-third or over 1,000 expressed readiness for face-to-face classes.

UB will conduct another survey to reassess preparedness of the students as more people are getting vaccinated. A separate survey for parents of students in the pediatric population in preparation for the reopening face-to-face classes in basic education, junior, and senior high school will also be conducted.

Faculty members will also be assessed on the adjustments and preparations they have to make for the hybrid classes. – Rimaliza A. Opiña