The government’s pandemic task force approved on Tuesday, November 16, the phased rollout of face-to-face classes for colleges and universities.
This comes after the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) first announced on Monday, November 15, that higher education institutions (HEIs) would gradually be allowed to conduct limited in-person classes for all degree programs.
“Limited face-to-face classes are now allowed under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3, subject to certain conditions,” Resolution No. 148-G of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases read.
Examples of conditions included limited indoor venue capacity, no opposition from the respective local government unit, and the exclusive participation of fully vaccinated students, teachers, and non-teaching personnel.
Colleges and universities can start applying for authorization in December 2021.
In a briefing before the House committee on higher and technical education on Monday, CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera described the following phases:
- In Phase 1, all regions under Alert Level 2 may apply to conduct limited face-to-face classes beginning December 2021 and onwards.
- In Phase 2, all regions under Alert Level 3 can apply. The implementation period will be January 2022 and onwards.
For schools to be allowed to conduct the classes, CHED will require them to retrofit facilities to be protective from COVID-19, and to comply with minimum public health standards.
The CHED will also consider the COVID-19 case situation in the area of the higher education institution.
“This is without prejudice to HEIs applying earlier than the period of implementation,” CHED’s presentation read.
This is what classes will look like under each alert level:
- Alert Level 1 – full indoor and outdoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals
- Alert Level 2 – maximum of 50% indoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and those below 18 years old (regardless of vaccination status), and 70% outdoor capacity
- Alert Level 3 – maximum of 30% indoor venue capacity, and 50% outdoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only
“We are doing it by phases so we can adjust accordingly if we need to amend guidelines, we need to copy best practices, and we will be able to monitor challenges that will be experienced by stakeholders,” said De Vera.
The CHED chair also said face-to-face classes were not mandatory, and HEIs could still continue flexible learning if they wanted to.
Before the approval for all degree programs to participate in face-to-face classes, the CHED previously only allowed certain programs that required hands-on experience, like medicine and engineering.
As of October 31, 162 HEIs have been issued authority to conduct limited face-to-face classes. This is just 7% of the total HEIs in the country. More than 27,000 students are attending face-to-face classes, while around 2,300 faculty members are teaching.
De Vera also said that CHED is partnering with regional offices, the Department of Health, and local government units to conduct school-based vaccination to fast-track the vaccination of tertiary students.
CHED’s announcement comes on a big day for basic education, as the Department of Education opened limited face-to-face classes for select schools in a limited number of areas. – Rappler.com