THE Department of Health (DOH) has expressed full support to the Commission on Higher Education’s (Ched) move to allow unvaccinated students, teachers and non-teaching staff to participate in face-to-face classes.In a statement, the DOH said that Ched consulted them before making such an update on its policy in the conduct of in-person classes for the tertiary level.Among the considerations were the high vaccination coverage in the higher education, the data showing less infections in the 18 to 25 age group compared to the other age groups, and the low fatality or severity of infection of the Omicron sub-variant, which is currently driving the increase in Covid-19 cases in the country.“Our Covid-19 response is dynamic, and always follows the latest scientific recommendations available. The benefits of in-person and face-to-face schooling now outweigh the risk of Covid-19 infections. Face-to-face classes boost academic performance, improve on mental health and well-being, and help develop social engagement skills,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.“Furthermore, many of our bright yet disadvantaged students find it difficult to spend on devices and internet access. Even as proof of vaccination is no longer needed, vaccination and boosters for all eligible individuals is still strongly recommended. Let us keep the wall of immunity strong,” she added.But Vergeire reiterated the importance of booster vaccination to strengthen one’s protection against the virus.She urged college students and teachers to take part in the government’s Pinaslakas campaign, which aims to increase the booster vaccination coverage in the country.She said having booster shots, plus the continued adherence to the minimum public health protocols will make the return to university and college life more safer.“Students and personnel should always be Bida: wear the Best fitting mask, Isolate when sick, Double up protection with vaccination and boosters, and ensure good Airflow. The DOH will keep working with Ched and our colleges and universities to ensure safe higher education,” said Vergeire.The Ched gave universities and institutions the discretion to implement their respective health protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus during the conduct of face-to-face classes. (SunStar Philippines)