This website requires JavaScript.

CHED Mulls In-Person Classes For All Degree Programs

CHED Mulls In-Person Classes For All Degree Programs
Students of the medical technology program of the National University wear personal protective equipment as they attend their class on June 8, 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. NU kicked off its limited face-to-face classes on June 7, 2021 following health and safety protocols. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is considering allowing schools in low-risk areas with high COVID-19 vaccination rates to conduct limited in-person classes for all degree programs.

CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera noted that limited face-to-face classes are now permitted for medicine and allied health sciences; engineering and technology; hospitality, hotel and restaurant management; tourism and travel management; marine engineering and marine transportation.

“In addition to limited face-to-face (classes) by degree program, we are studying whether we can allow schools in areas that have very low COVID prevalence and also very high vaccination rate to conduct limited face-to-face on all degree programs,” de Vera said at a press briefing on Monday, Oct. 11.

De Vera cited the Mariano Marcos State University in Ilocos Norte, which has a high vaccination rate.

“If the local government allows it, if the vaccination rate of the area is high and its classification is low as far as COVID is concerned, we might allow schools to conduct limited face-to-face in all their degree programs in the succeeding months as long as they abide by the guidelines and they are inspected,” the CHED chief said.

“So we will have two limited face-to-face (classes) – by degree program and possibly by geographic area. We are now studying that,” he added.

De Vera said universities offering medical and allied health sciences were allowed to hold in-person classes even during the spike of COVID-19 infections in Metro Manila because they were very careful in enforcing safety protocols.

“As long as they are into medicine and allied health sciences, they just have to seek permission from CHED and the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and they will be allowed,” De Vera said.

President Duterte allowed in-person classes in medicine and allied health sciences last January. De Vera said 181 institutions with a total student population of 21,000 and more than 1,000 faculty members have secured approval to hold face-to-face learning sessions.

He added that in recent months, the infection rate among students who attended classes is less than 1% while that of faculty members is 1.41%.

“All of them are asymptomatic, nobody died and no one was confined to the hospital. That means the guidelines issued by CHED and the DOH (Department Health) are strict and really protect the students and faculty members,” De Vera said.

Shared responsibility

Education is a shared responsibility that needs the contribution of the whole society, especially amid the challenges brought by the pandemic new normal, according to Education Secretary Leonor Briones.

She said the involvement of all sectors was especially important if the Philippines and other countries aim to attain the sustainable development goals (SDGs) relating to education.

“Education has become and it is obvious now that it is a shared responsibility. We call for the involvement of all sectors of society, in addition of course to the ministries of education who are leading these efforts. It is a shared responsibility because we all play a vital role in shaping the lives of our learners,” Briones said during the celebration of the 6th anniversary of the SDGs last Sept. 25.

The Department of Education (DepEd) through its International Cooperation Office, together with the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO (UNACOM) and United Nations Association of the Philippines (UNAP), held the 6th SDG anniversary celebrations virtually, where it discussed the negative effects of the pandemic in the progress made toward the SDGs.

Lawyer Nepomuceno Malaluan, education undersecretary, said that due to the demand for changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the fulfillment of these SDGs became more complex, thus the call of DepEd and UNESCO for stronger stakeholder support in sustaining healthy learning environment for learners.

“The biggest impact of COVID-19 in the transformative education in the Philippines towards Sustainable Development Goals is in compelling us to look again beyond the confines of physical classrooms. Learning spaces are habitats for learners where they learn to be adaptive and thrive. This emphasizes the shared responsibility of the stakeholders in an ecosystem,” Malaluan said.

DepEd highlighted the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan as the program that gave learning opportunities to all learners during the pandemic. The agency recognized the support of its field offices, LGUs and partners in delivering education services to 26.8 million learners for school year 2021-2022. – With Rainier Allan Ronda