5 more college programs get nod for f2f classes

LIMITED face-to-face classes have been allowed for five more college degree programs that require hands-on experience, but only in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) announced.

In a statement Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, officials of the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) in Cebu City welcomed Ched’s new order.

“We will act once the Commission on Higher Education will release the implementing guidelines for the limited face-to-face classes relative to the identified courses,” university officials said.

As of Wednesday, Ched Central Visayas Director Maximo Aljibe said in a text message to SunStar Cebu that they were still awaiting the guidelines.

In Central Visayas, only Siquijor is under MGCQ until Sept. 30. Cebu City and Mandaue City are under general community quarantine (GCQ). The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases placed Cebu Province, Lapu-Lapu City, Negros Oriental and Bohol under GCQ with heightened restrictions.

Unless the government shifts to the alert level system, the quarantine classifications for October are expected to be announced Thursday, Sept. 30.

Ched Chairman Prospero de Vera III said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued on Sept. 21, 2021 the authority for face-to-face activities in the following areas:

* Engineering and Technology programs

* Hospitality/ Hotel and Restaurant Management

* Tourism/ Travel Management

* Marine Engineering

* Marine Transportation

De Vera said they are now pushing for the vaccination of all faculty, staff and students in higher education institutions (HEIs) to ensure their safety and minimize transmission of the highly infectious coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

He did not specify a target date for the in-person classes in these additional college programs.

“I have been in constant discussion with NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez (Jr.) and we are now aggressively pushing for the vaccination of all faculty, staff and students in HEIs to add another layer of protection to our face-to-face classes,” he said.

“Some of our HEIs have completed the vaccination of their employees and students. We aim to do it for other HEIs as more vaccines arrive,” he added.

HEIs intending to have limited face-to-face classes as part of their flexible learning policy may now apply for authority with Ched regional offices.

Face-to-face classes were allowed for medicine and allied health courses in January 2021.

To support their proposal to expand the in-person classes, De Vera said the commission presented to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases the evidence on the ground showing that mechanisms that have been put in place are effective. Among these are:

* Retrofitting of facilities by HEIs;

* Observance of health protocols;

* Putting up of crisis management committees; and

* Coordination with local government units concerned.

“Based on the data we gathered on the ground, there is a small percentage of students and faculty members who were affected by Covid-19. I’m convinced that it is safe to hold face-to-face classes and it can be expanded to cover other degree programs,” De Vera said.

Of the close to 2,000 universities and colleges, almost half have already opened the school year. Others are planning to start classes in October or November. (SunStar Philippines, JKV, WBS)