MANILA — The resumption of face-to-face classes for more college programs has been allowed by government, the Commission on Higher Education said Tuesday.
CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera, in a statement, said President Rodrigo Duterte gave the go-ahead for limited face-to-face classes to other degree programs that require hands-on experience in higher education institutions (HEIs) in areas under modified general community quarantine.
Programs allowed for in-person classes include engineering and technology, hotel and restaurant management, tourism and travel management, and maritime courses.
Prior to the development, only students in medicine and the allied health sciences were allowed to hold in-person classes. De Vera earlier said the programs were selected because students were required to have "hands-on experience."
Of the first batch of students allowed to hold in-person instruction, less than 1 percent tested positive for COVID-19, prompting De Vera to call for the expansion of on-site classes for other programs.
"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.
The CHED chair is in talks with vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. to push for vaccination of all faculty members, students and school staff to provide "another layer of protection to our face-to-face classes."
“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,” De Vera said.
"We assure our students, parents and faculty that holding in-person classes is safe. Our guidelines are strict."
HEIs can now apply with CHED regional offices for authority to hold limited face-to-face classes, said De Vera.
He said the start of in-person classes in the additional programs, which may be as early as the current semester, "depends on when" the institutions "apply and get authority from CHED".
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities shifted beginning last year to flexible learning, where students study from their homes through a blend of online (virtual classes) and offline (modules and other printed materials) methods.
Duterte also recently authorized the pilot test of face-to-face classes in basic education as part of a plan to gradually reopen schools, which have been closed for more than a year.
- with a report from Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News