MANILA, Philippines – Will there be face-to-face classes in colleges and universities this school year?
Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prosero de Vera III on Wednesday, June 10, said that there might be “limited” face-to-face classes in coronavirus-free areas.
In an interview with DZMM, De Vera said the pre-pandemic classroom setup, with 40 to 50 students in one classroom, is not going to happen.
“Ayan hindi na papayagan ‘yan dahil may risk ng reinfection, pero limited face-to-face, halimbawa 30%, 40% or 50% ng classroom lang ang mapupuno, puwede yan sa mga lugar na COVID-free,” De Vera said. (That will not be allowed because of the risk of reinfection, but limited face-to-face classes where, for example, 30%, 40%, or 50% of the classroom is filled, may be allowed in COVID-free areas.)
De Vera cited the situations in Batanes, Quirino, and Guimaras, which are areas that had no recorded COVID-19 cases in the past months.
“Kapag sinabi mo sa mga lugar na ‘yan na absolute na zero face-to-face, you are not taking into consideration the local condition. Pero kailangan na magkonsulta sa local government kasi kapag nagsimula ka ng limited face-to-face tapos walang public transporation, kawawa ang mga bata,” De Vera said.
(If you say that there will be absolutely zero face-to-face classes in those areas, you are not taking into consideration the local condition. But consultation with the local government will be needed, because if limited face-to-face classes will be allowed and there is no public transportation, then the students will suffer.)
If limited face-to-face classes are allowed, schools without medical facilities should coordinate with their local government units to devise a system for bringing sick students immediately to quarantine or hospital facilities, De Vera said.
In a Viber message to Rappler on Wednesday night, De Vera also said that CHED was studying all options for the conduct of classes during the pandemic.
De Vera added that CHED and the Department of Health were drafting guidelines on health protocols for the opening of classes in August.
“These protocols will be presented to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) in late June and implemented starting July. We will see in the implementation of the protocols on the ground the viability of limited face-to-face classes,” De Vera said.
The decision to allow limited face-to-face classes, however, will be decided upon by the government coronavirus task force, De Vera said.
“What is prohibited under IATF resolutions is the old or traditional full face-to-face classes in all areas under quarantine,” De Vera added.
On May 14, the government’s coronavirus task force approved the CHED resolution to open classes in colleges and universities based on mode of teaching, with the educational institutions that use “flexible” learning allowed to open anytime in August.
“Flexible learning” for higher education institutions involves a combination of digital and non-digital technology, which CHED says doesn’t necessarily require connectivity. (READ: During pandemic, student climbs a mountain to send class requirement)
At the basic education level, Education Secretary Leonor Briones has postponed face-to-face classes until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.
Last May, experts at the University of the Philippines warned that transmission of COVID-19 might increase should face-to-face classes open in Metro Manila schools in August and September.
As of Wednesday, the Philippines recorded 23,732 coronavirus cases, including 1,027 deaths and 4,895 recoveries. – Rappler.com