Biliran Province State University (BiPSU) joined other higher education institutions in coordinating with local government units (LGUs) and regional agencies in its plan to vaccinate eligible students against COVID-19.
In a phone interview with Rappler on Wednesday, October 20, BiPSU University President Victor Canezo said the university aimed to inoculate at least 70% of its qualified adult senior high school and college students in preparation for in-person classes.
“This is to empower the people of the community. In this time of the pandemic, we really need to help the government achieve herd immunity,” Canezo said in a mix of Tagalog and English.
“In my observation, although LGUs [in the province] are conducting their vaccination [drives], the turnout of students is low,” he added.
According to Canezo, at least 2,300 of over 7,000 eligible BiPSU students–or 33% of the target population–have been vaccinated as of October 10. The school will be vaccinating 2,600 more to achieve the goal of 4,900 or 70% vaccinated students of their eligible population.
The Department of Health (DOH) – Eastern Visayas (Region VIII) earlier said it would allocate 5,000 vaccines for the university. But Canezo said in their meeting with the health department on Wednesday that they would rather receive COVID-19 jabs equal to the number of students who have confirmed their vaccination slots.
“Since other LGUs are still actively vaccinating, we told DOH that maybe some of the students can be inoculated there and we could instead only accommodate those who have confirmed their registration,” he said.
BiPSU, the only higher education institution in Biliran province, posted an online survey to finalize the list of adult senior high school and college students who registered for its vaccination program. It will submit the list to the DOH by Monday, October 25.
Canezo said the university aims to start inoculating students by October 27 and 28. The vaccination program, he said, could be extended until November 15, depending on the number of registered students.
BiPSU’s campus in Naval will be used as a makeshift vaccination center. It is already used by the local government of Naval as a vaccination site. The university has another campus in the municipality of Biliran.
To accommodate some of the students living away from the university, BiPSU will be mobilizing three vehicles to transport registered students to the vaccination center.
“For students living in Leyte like Leyte, Leyte, or Calubian, we could fetch them at the border,” Canezo said, referring to the border located near the Biliran Bridge, which links Biliran and Leyte.
After inoculating their target student population, Canezo said the university will then apply to Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for limited in-person classes for most of its program.
CHED said on Monday, October 11, that it was studying the possibility of allowing limited face-to-face classes. Since January, few medical schools and allied health science programs have been allowed to conduct in-person classes. – Rappler.com
Brynch Bonachita is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.