By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
As the COVID-19 situation remains uncertain, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has recommended private universities and colleges to shift into the new academic calendar to have enough time to prepare for the opening of classes.
“Sa consultation ko sa mga private schools, sabi ko baka kailangan ninyong pag-usapan na kung mag-momove kayo ng [academic] calendar. Mag-August na rin sila, para mayroong additional two months to prepare (In my consultation with private schools, I said that they might need to discuss if they would move their [academic] calendar and start classes in August, so they would have additional two months to prepare.),” CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III said in a radio interview.
According to De Vera, schools using the old academic calendar or the June-May calendar might have a hard time adjusting in the opening of classes due to the uncertainty of the duration of the extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“Kung bubuksan ang klase ng June, very uncertain ang mga pangyayari kaya baka mahirapan sila. Baka mapag-isipan nila na i-move na rin para kung August ang first semester, between now and August, makaka-adjust sila (If they open classes in June, they might have a tough time because of how uncertain things are right now. They could consider moving their calendar. Should the first semester start in August, they would have time to adjust.),” De Vera explained.
“Mas practical ito at saka mas hindi sila kakabahan sa gagawin, kasi kailangan kapag pababalikin ang mga bata sa klase, kailangan safe ang environment ng eskwelahan. Kung hindi sigurado, huwag mong pabalikin ang mga bata kasi kawawa sila, so they have to adjust (This is more practical and less stressful for them because when students return to school, the premises must be safe. If you’re not sure, do not allow students back just yet, because they are the ones who will suffer. So the school has to adjust),” he added.
Over the week, the Commission has authorized colleges and universities using the June-May calendar to finish the current academic year until April 30, while schools using the August-July calendar are allowed to extend the semester for a maximum of one month after the lifting of the quarantine.
In its latest advisory, CHED added that HEIs may conduct summer or midterm classes only for graduating students who would need to complete their academic requirements, while strictly observing social distancing and other safety procedures to prevent the spread of the disease.
The higher education chief explained that conducting summer classes is “impossible” for schools using the old academic calendar due to time constraints.
“Sa mga private schools na gusto pa ring mag-summer, pwede pero ilipat ninyo na ang opening ng klase sa Agosto para mayroon kayong flexibility in terms of time (For private schools that still want to hold summer classes, they can still do so, but they would have to move opening of classes to August to have flexibility in terms of time),” he added.
Meanwhile, the CHED chairman bared that they are currently in talks with various health experts to come up with guidelines on how universities and colleges should prepare for the next school year.
De Vera said that among the health requirements all tertiary institutions should follow are temperature checks, social distancing measures, and regular disinfecting of rooms and school premises.
“This is now the new normal, so we are currently consulting with health experts, we are crafting guidelines, and maybe by next week we will discuss it with the universities prior to the opening of classes,” he said.
Classes in all levels in Luzon have been canceled since the entire island was placed on lockdown in mid-March to prevent possible exposure of students to the virus and to contain the spread of the disease.