MANILA, Philippines – The government has repealed a policy requiring college students attending face-to-face (F2F) classes to have medical insurance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacañang announced yesterday.
The IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) approved the recommendation of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to repeal the medical insurance of students stipulated in the CHED-DOH Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2021-004, ”acting deputy presidential spokesman Michel Kristian Ablan said at a press briefing.
Under the joint memorandum signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III last December, students who participate in F2F classes are registered with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) as a direct or indirect contributor (dependents of the direct contributor) or with equivalent medical insurance that covers medical expenses related to COVID-19.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) earlier urged the government to allot a budget for the health insurance of students and teachers attending in-person classes.
NUSP president Jandeil Roperos said students not qualified as dependents need to look for their own insurance and pay their contributions to PhilHealth.
Late. Nancy Binay has also questioned the requirement, saying it further burdens college students, especially those from poor families.
Under Alert Level 1, colleges and universities can resume F2F classes at full capacity, provided that all teachers, students and non-teaching staff on campus are fully vaccinated.
The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday urged parents and guardians of school-age children to approve of F2F classes, saying it is “healthier.”
In a public health advisory, the DOH reminded the general public of the “benefits” of F2F schooling.
“F2F attendance in school will allow children to develop their cognitive and social skills experientially,” the agency noted.
According to DOH, F2F promotes physical and mental health and well-being, citing latest scientific evidence.
“Let’s give our children the education and learning development they need and deserve this coming school year by providing the best education and protection,” it added.
The DOH said the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 can be reduced if the teachers, students and other school staff get their primary series of vaccines and booster shots when they are eligible.
The agency added it is also crucial for everyone in school to observe health protocols such as proper wearing of face masks, hand washing and physical distancing. It also underscored the need for schools to have good ventilation to ensure proper airflow.