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MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Tuesday, April 14, said it would be up to universities and colleges to decide whether to implement mass promotion of students amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
"The decision on completion of requirements and issuance of degrees are academic matters that are within the powers of individual universities exercised through their board of trustees or board of regents. These are academic matters that we leave to the universities," CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera III said in a press briefing.
Explaining why CHED would not release any guidelines on mass promotion, De Vera said that "there are more than 1,900 universities and colleges in the country with different academic calendars and policies."
In a bid to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus, several areas in the Philippines, including the whole island of Luzon which houses over 57 million residents, were placed on lockdown in mid-March. Classes have been cancelled in Luzon since the lockdown started.
However, several schools have opted to make up for lost time with online classes, following a CHED advisory that encourages schools to use "available distance learning, e-learning, and other alternative modes of delivery in lieu of residential learning if they have the resources to do so."
Last March 25, students of the top schools in the country had urged CHED to suspend online classes nationwide. (READ: Students of top 4 PH schools urge CHED to suspend online classes)
The students said that while they "understand the need for learning to continue, the different circumstances of students across universities are not ideal and conducive for such."
Online classes at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman remain suspended as of Tuesday. An advisory council, however, recommended to the UP Board of Regents to end on April 30 the second semester for academic year 2019-2020. (READ: CHED: Colleges, universities free to adjust academic calendar)
Meanwhile, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) announced on April 7 it would shorten the current academic year's second semester.
ADMU also announced that eligible non-graduating students will receive passing (P) marks instead of letter grades for the second semester and will be automatically promoted to the next school year, including those on probation.
De Vera on Tuesday said that graduation ceremonies of higher education institutions are "discouraged given the continuing need for social distancing and the restrictions on mass gathering."
On Monday, April 13, the Department of Education said that there will be no graduation rites in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.