Students not mandated to be vaccinated to attend physical classes
MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairperson Prospero De Vera III on Thursday clarified that COVID-19 vaccination is not required for students attending limited face-to-face classes.
“I did not push for mandatory vaccination. In fact, the limited face-to-face classes in medicine and allied health sciences, there is no mandatory vaccination required, the next batch of limited face-to-face classes, there is no mandatory vaccination required,” De Vera told senators during the CHEd’s budget hearing in the Senate.
The clarification came after Senator Francis Tolentino sought an explanation from De Vera after the CHEd official was quoted in a news article saying that the agency was considering mandatory vaccinations for students.
But while De Vera said that vaccination is not mandatory, he pointed out that it is important to encourage students and faculty to be vaccinated.
“I always said the answer is to convince students and faculty to be vaccinated because, in the first batch of degree programs [allowed to hold face-to-face classes], the infection was very low because we were able to work with DOH (Department of Health) so that the students and faculty in medicine and allied health [sciences] were all vaccinated because they were reclassified as A1,” he explained.
As student-athletes began getting vaccinated, De Vera said the question of whether vaccinations were required for students in physical education classes arose.
“The mandatory vaccination issue came when we were vaccinating the student-athletes…I did not say there will be mandatory vaccin[ation],” he said.
“It is the schools who were saying that it is best that they be vaccinated because contact sports require very close individuals, you cannot have social distancing in sports,” De Vera added.
He was asked if he would be willing to issue a CHEd circular clarifying “once and for all” that students can attend face-to-face classes regardless of their vaccination status.
“Yes, if that is needed, I will issue it,” De Vera said in response.
Nevertheless, the CHEd chairman stressed that the decision to require vaccination of physical education students remains up to the universities.
“While we do not require mandatory vaccinations, universities can do it because it’s their facilities that are being managed. That is my position,” he said.
“If they say only students who are vaccinated can do laboratory [work], the others have to do it virtually, that’s the decision of the university as far as I’m concerned,” he added.
“As long as education is still provided to students but restrictions are put to protect the facilities of the university, to me that is the decision of the university,” he further said.
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