In a press conference for the first National Higher Education Day held on May 18, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera III shared updates regarding the status of the vaccination program for education frontliners. According to the chairman, they were able to negotiate the inclusion of higher education personnel such as teachers in the B1 classification on the priority list of COVID-19 vaccine recipients.
During the press conference, he also shared that that a number of "big universities" in the country are interested in procuring COVID-19 vaccines. According to a report by Rappler, the CHED chairman has already redirected the interested universities to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. for coordination.
De Vera also pointed out that many of these universities have ties to conglomerates with the "financial capability to procure vaccines." De Vera, however, did not mention which universities expressed interest in procuring vaccines, nor did he specify whether or not these vaccines will be used for students or for university personnel.
Additionally, De Vera brought up the possibility of vaccinating students in an effort to bring back a certain sense of normalcy to the education sector, which he said will be discussed by the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) this week.
According to him, other countries are also considering this course of action to fast track the resumption of face-to-face classes. It also aims to address the current struggles of students with online classes, such as access to resources and its impact on students' mental health, to name a few. "Also, this is a recognition, that especially for younger students, they are observing in other countries that the mental health of students are really getting affected and they'd like the students to be going out of their homes more frequently. And the answer in other countries is to vaccinate them."
The chairman also pointed out that they would first need to assess whether the setup made for the first batch of students allowed to go back to limited face-to-face classes was effective. In March 2021, several colleges and universities around the country were given permission to hold limited face-to-face classes for health and medicine-related courses.
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