MANILA – There won't be a flurry of students rushing back to campuses once government allows the resumption of in-person classes in colleges and universities, even on a limited scale, while the COVID-19 pandemic persists.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Tuesday the conduct of limited face-to-face or in-person classes would be optional for colleges and universities, and only for courses with activities that could not be accomplished through remote means.
“’Yong limited face-to-face is not a requirement, it is an option… given to universities who would like to do limited face-to-face under certain restrictions and guidelines,” said CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera during the inspection of facilities of the Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) in Valenzuela City with National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez.
OLFU “retrofitted” its classrooms, library, and other facilities to comply with COVID-19 health standards in case government gives the school the green light for limited in-person classes.
De Vera said the guidelines would be issued within the month so higher education institutions (HEIs) could hold in-person classes by their second semesters, which usually start in January.
He added that limited in-person classes would only be for programs with activities that would be difficult to accomplish through remote learning.
“Maybe we can start only with the health-related programs [such as] medicine, nursing, physical therapy. Hindi ka magiging magaling na doktor o nurse kung hindi ka talaga pupunta sa ospital (You will not be a good doctor or nurse if you don’t really go to the hospital),” De Vera said.
“We need face-to-face kasi mayroon tayong experiential learning, meaning mas madali mo siyang turuan kapag ginagawa mo,” Galvez said.
(We need face-to-face because we have what we call experiential learning, meaning it would be easier for you to learn because you’re doing it.)
De Vera also urged colleges and universities to start reconfiguring their facilities for limited in-person classes even without the guidelines.
He reiterated that HEIs must coordinate with local government units and CHED offices if they want to hold physical classes.
In OLFU, for example, the school placed markers inside its buildings, indicating the required spacing between and among students and personnel. The school also installed signage and other information materials to remind people of health and safety protocols.
The university also limited the number of students that would be using classrooms, depending on size, to maintain physical distancing.
Following the inspection, Galvez and health officials from the Valenzuela city government made recommendations, such as installing more signage and alcohol dispensers, and adjusting ventilation in classrooms.
Galvez added that OLFU’s health protocols can serve as a “template” for other schools that want to hold limited in-person classes.