Following the new guidelines issued by the government COVID-19 task force on simplified travels, Silliman University COVID-19 Crisis Management Group Secretariat Atty. Joshua Francisco Ablong said that the university continues to prepare for the limited face-to-face classes with optimum safety.
“At the very outset, we take all matters relative to COVID-19 very seriously, and that’s the reason why whenever there are updates or government regulations that are being issued, we immediately meet and deliberate on the same,” he said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 101 signed last February 26 outlined uniform travel protocols for local government units including no 14-day quarantine for travelers ‘unless they exhibit symptoms’ upon arrival.
Atty. Ablong said that there are ‘no reasons’ for the university to go against the IATF resolution and the recently issued memorandum of Negros Oriental province.
“We are happy however that the RT-PCR tests are still being required because we believe that it adds at least a layer of protection in so far as our community and university is concerned because at least we get to be assured that those who come into Dumaguete (City) are actually not carrying the virus,” he said.
The ‘specs’ or ‘retrofitting’ are needed which are also in compliance with the Commission on Higher Education’s requirements. “CHED has its own memorandum for this one, and we are making sure that we comply with everything, including the logistical and the facilities aspect of those requirements,” he added.
Aside from continuing the triage system, he mentioned that the university will require everyone to register to enter the campus, and decided to create a crisis management committee and institutional crisis management group.
The secretariat said that these are composed of the various medical programs’ members, to have a “closer monitoring and decision making whenever there are possible exposures or cases of COVID at the level of these medical programs.”
Meanwhile, the plan for limited face-to-face classes of selected health-related degree programs is already in the process of approval, according to Atty. Ablong, there is ‘no move’ for the same implementation for other courses.
As of time, he said that there are no final conclusions aside from the plan to limit it first for the medical courses. He is hopeful that the university will be ready to hold face-to-face classes, but still have to ‘look into circumstances as it develops.’
“We have to take into consideration the fact that we cannot, as of this time, go into a full F2F [face-to-face] meeting with our students in lieu of the fact that not everyone, a considerable portion of the population is not vaccinated. It might be unsafe for us to do it right now when the vaccines are not yet rolled out to a, you know, the majority of our population,” he said.
Moreover, when asked about purchasing vaccines, he confirmed that there are plans to purchase a vaccine and they are on the ‘level of knowing’ the number of interested to acquire vaccines, especially to the faculty and staff.
“There are those who would have hesitations at this time to get the vaccine. And of course, you also have to take into consideration the individual differences. There are those who may have comorbidities who may be anxious to get the vaccines. Right now, we are at the level of trying to know how many are interested,” he said. An allocation of vaccines’ budget is also being discussed.
As for the students, it has an ongoing discussion at the level of administration. “We will be issuing the necessary advisory or memorandum as soon as a decision is made on that particular aspect of the students. But right now, plans are underway to purchase vaccines for faculty and staff. I cannot be specific on the brand at this time because we are evaluating all our options and it still has to go through the board of trustees,” Atty. Ablong ended.