Colleges, and universities given choice whether to revert to old summer sked

THE decision to revert the opening of the classes back to the old academic calendar is up to the administration of tertiary institutions, according to an official of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched).

This comes amid complaints from students and parents about the intense heat brought about by the hot season, urging that the traditional June to March pre-pandemic academic calendar be reinstated.

“The academic calendar — that is a power of the individual university to decide,” said Dr. J. Prospero de Vera, Ched chairman, on Friday, May 5, 2023.

He said Ched did not mandate colleges and universities to shift their academic calendar during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even before the health crisis, several universities in the National Capital Region had already adopted the new academic calendar to correspond to the set international academic calendar, which is followed by most universities abroad.

He said he was vice president of the University of the Philippines (UP) when the university shifted to the new academic calendar in 2014.

“They shifted it because they felt that the academic calendar of UP should be in sync with the academic calendar of universities abroad. It should be the same,” he said. “If they do not synchronize, there will be problems with students who want to study one semester abroad, there are problems with faculty [members] who want to teach, there are problems with joint research because they have different academic calendars.”

Prospero pointed out that many foreign students and educators started arriving in the country to pursue academic endeavors as soon as local higher educational institutions (HEIs) adopted the new academic calendar.

Hybrid setup

Prospero, however, believed that instead of reverting to the old academic calendar, HEIs should adopt a flexible learning modality.

He encouraged educational institutions to convert to the hybrid setup of learning, which was widely applied throughout the nation during the height of the pandemic.

“Like today, they say that there is a resurgence of Covid cases, so they should shift online. If the weather too is hot, then you should follow asynchronous classes,” he said.

According to him, issues will develop if an HEI changes its academic calendar without other schools doing the same, as it will only penalize students, particularly those who are graduating senior high school and entering college.

“If we can do it in the worst of Covid, we should be able to do it now because we have two years in training already,” he said.

Prospero commended UP Cebu after it announced that it would be migrating some of its classes online after two students tested positive for Covid-19.

UP Cebu announced that it would temporarily switch to online classes for one week, or from May 4 to 11, with the exception of those classes that require access to studios or laboratories and its high school program.

Still to decide

Meanwhile, primary and secondary school stakeholders have yet to hear whether their request to adjust the academic calendar will be handled.

The Department of Education (DepEd) Central Office has not yet decided whether to bring back the students’ summer vacation to April and May.

However, it has sent a note to all public and private schools to remind them that they are free to halt in-person instruction and move to alternative delivery methods (ADM).

According to DepEd 7 Director Salustiano Jimenez last April 26, ADM refers to various learning delivery that combines face-to-face with any or a mix of online distance learning, modular distance learning, and television/radio-based instruction.

In a separate statement last April 24, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in Central Visayas asked the DepEd to implement modular classes, saying the region’s classrooms have become “non-conducive” to learning and teaching due to the excessive heat.

“We challenge the DepEd Region VII to go outside their airconditioned rooms and offices to see the real scenario of the education sector. We do not need unsolicited remarks but rather responsible commitments, urgent and steadfast actions upon the demands of the teachers and students,” reads a portion of the group’s statement.