The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has ordered a private higher education institution (HEI) in Cauayan City, Isabela to immediately suspend its face-to-face classes after one of its students tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a statement on Wednesday, CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III said that the city health officials of Cauayan are now tracing 45 contacts of the student, identified by the local health department as “CV969,” who is taking professional educational courses in Isabela Colleges.
De Vera said the CHED Regional Office II confirmed that the HEI started conducting its series of orientations on August 29 which was attended by CV969. Isabela Colleges also admitted that it held Saturday classes for Certificate in Professional Education (CPE) programs effective August 24 to serve as the orientation sessions of the students.
With this, De Vera said the Commission will issue a show cause order against Isabela Colleges, Inc. for its alleged violations of the advisories and guidelines issued by CHED and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
Through the show cause order, the institution is given a period of 10 days to explain “why no sanctions should be imposed upon its officials, teaching or non-teaching personnel for its failure to comply with CHED’s directives or advisories.”
De Vera said the Commission has not issued any policy to allow face-to-face classes, while the IATF clearly stated that limited face-to-face classes in low-risk MGCQ areas must comply with CHED guidelines.
“The CHED advisories have consistently advised HEIs to refrain from conducting face-to-face or in-person classes or mass gatherings on their campuses. This has been disseminated in the print and broadcast media and in several zoom meetings with HEIs considering the threat of community transmission due to the mass gathering of students,” De Vera said.
In a CHED advisory issued May 24, HEIs were prevented from conducting in-person graduation ceremonies and other school activities until the prohibition for mass gathering is lifted.
“Under Section 17 of BP (Batasang Pambansa) 232, every school shall be accountable for the efficient and effective administration and management of the school and assume and maintain professional behavior in his work and in dealing with students, teachers, academic non-teaching personnel, administrative staff, and parents or guardians,” De Vera said.
“In case of failure to comply with the condition or obligations prescribed by this Code (BP 232) or its implementing rules and regulations, gross inefficiency of the teaching or non-teaching personnel, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, now CHED, may prescribe and impose such administrative sanctions as may be deemed reasonable and appropriate in the implementing rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to BP 232,” he added.
Face-to-face classes have been suspended in the country since the government implemented a hard lockdown in parts of the country in mid-March to encourage strict home quarantine and reduce the risk of virus transmission due to the current health crisis.