The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will no longer issue additional directives following the indefinite suspension of face-to-face internship and clinical clerkship rotation in the National Capital Region (NCR) due to rising cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Conditions on the ground are considered in determining limited face-to-face options,” CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III told the Manila Bulletin on Sunday, March 7. Thus, he noted that there will be “no need” to issue additional directives for such.
In an advisory issued by the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges (APMC) also dated March 7, the suspension of face-to-face activities involving medical interns in NCR hospitals was announced.
De Vera confirmed that he was “already informed of this” and such is “provided for in the guidelines” – referring to the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2021-001 issued early this month.
The concerned Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the local government units (LGUs), De Vera explained, are expected to “coordinate with each other on this matter” since varying conditions on the ground should be of utmost consideration when it comes to determining the options for limited face-to-face activities.
Based on the advisory issued by APMC signed by its President Dr. Manuel Dayrit, medical school deans and directors of accredited medical internship hospitals were informed that “face-to-face internship rotation is suspended immediately until further notice” due to a surge in COVID-19 cases at the NCR.
APMC also advised respective hospital directors – in regions outside NCR where COVID-19 cases may be rising – to “decide on the suspension of face-to-face rotation” guided by announcements or information coming from the national government, Department of Health(DOH), Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) or local government units.
The APMC noted that in the absence of specific directives from CHED, concerned deans may also “decide on the suspension of face-to-face rotation” for clinical clerkship programs as long as they are guided by information from concerned authorities.
Following the suspension, the APMC noted that “all learning activities may be continued in virtual mode.”
On March 6, De Vera confirmed that six HEIs offering medical programs were already allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes namely the University of the Philippines-Manila (UP) and University of Santo Tomas (UST) both located in Manila; the Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) in Valenzuela; the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERM) in Quezon City; the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health in Pasig; and the St. Louis University in Baguio.
CHED and DOH said that the priority for the gradual reopening of campuses for limited face-to-face classes are only given to “selected health-related degree programs regarded as vital in providing additional manpower support in the health system” which include Medicine, Nursing, Medical Technology or Medical Laboratory Science, Physical Therapy, Midwifery and Public Health.