Colleges, universities need virus resurgence plan for face-to-face class resumption: group

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2020 01:42 PM

CHED officials led by Chairman Prospero De Vera III and National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. inspect the Our Lady of Fatima University Valenzuela campus' retrofitted classrooms on December 1, 2020 in preparation for possible face-to-face classes for certain courses on January 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Colleges and universities must come up with a virus resurgence plan if they will be allowed to resume face-to-face classes, a group of private school administrators said Wednesday.

Government officials on Tuesday inspected the Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela City, which “retrofitted” its facilities for the possible conduct of in-person classes by January.

The CHED is set to release guidelines on the conduct of limited in-person classes within the month so higher education institutions (HEIs) could hold such type of instruction by early next year.

Aside from retrofitting and virus resurgence planning, class shifting is also among guidelines that the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 and the Commission on Higher Education, said its managing director Joseph Noel Estrada.

"Ang isang malaking tinitingnan d'yan hindi 'yung readiness sa pagbubukas kundi 'yung ano ang mangyayari kung magkaroon ng transmission, 'yung resurgence, dahil madaling magbukas," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(We're looking not at the readiness of resuming face-to-face classes but what will happen if there's a transmission, a resurgence, because it's easy to reopen.)

Schools must also coordinate with local governments for immediate response in the event of virus transmission.

"Alam natin iba-iba ang local governments in terms of readiness," he said.

(We know local governments differ in terms of readiness.)

Swab tests are seen to not be required for all students, Estrada added.

"If we’re not requiring that in all industries or sectors, why would we require that for education? Baka prohibitive ito sa estudyante, may cost 'yun eh. May mekanismo dapat na mati-trigger bago i-require," he said.

(It might be prohibitive for students because it has a cost. A mechanism should be triggered before it's required.)

"Definitely health ang number 1, 'yung compliance with health protocols mas (are) heightened."

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HEIs are eyeing to begin limited face-to-face classes by January, according to Estrada.

"Malapit na rin na po ito maayos. Ang gusto po sana namin hanggang sa mas maagang panahon ay maplantsa ang ating guidelines para makonsulta rin ang stakeholders ng bawat eskuwelahan dahil ibang iba rin ang policy environment sa higher education dahil 'yung mga estudyante dito karamihan majority age na," he said. 

(Plans will soon be ironed out. We want to finish these so we can consult with stakeholders because the policy environment in higher education is very different as most students are of majority age.)