Limited face-to-face classes in all degree programs at the higher education level may soon be possible in areas with low coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and with high vaccination rates, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said.
At virtual press briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, Oct. 11, Chairman Popoy de Vera said that CHED – along with other concerned agencies – are currently studying the possibility of allowing limited face-to-face classes in areas where COVID-19 cases are low and the vaccination rates are high.
“Magiging dalawa yung ating limited face-to-face, by degree program and possibly, by geographic area. Yun ang ating pinag-aaralan ngayon (Our limited face-to-face [classes] will be categorized into two, by degree program and possibly, by geographic area. We’re studying this now),” De Vera said.
Currently, De Vera said that only students in select programs such as Medicine and Allied Health Sciences are allowed to attend limited face-to-face classes since January this year.
With the President’s approval in September, De Vera said that preparations for the expansion of limited face-to-face classes in other programs such as engineering and technology programs, hospitality/ hotel and restaurant management, tourism/ travel management, marine engineering, and marine transportation are also underway.
De Vera said that in addition to the limited face-to-face by degree program, CHED is also studying the possibility of expanding the conduct of limited face-to-face classes further.
“We are carefully studying the possibility of allowing schools in all degree programs in areas that have very low COVID prevalence and very high vaccination rate,” De Vera said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He noted that this is a possibility because there are areas in the country with low COVID-19 cases and high vaccination rates among education stakeholders.
For instance, he cited the case of Mariano Marcos State University in Ilocos Norte where “91 percent of its faculty and 97 percent of students who attend face-to-face classes” have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
As long as their respective local government units (LGUs) agree, the HEIs are located in areas with low COVID-19 classification and the vaccination rates among faculty and students are high, De Vera said that limited in-person classes by geographic location is a possibility.
“In the coming months, we might allow the schools to hold limited face-to-face classes in all degree programs as long as they abide by the guidelines and as long as they are inspected),” De Vera explained.
In the first batch, even if the infection rate in Metro Manila increased, De Vera said that some HEIs requested for them to be allowed to continue holding limited face-to-face classes.”
Many of these HEIs were allowed, De Vera said, as long as the protocols set by CHED, Department of Health (DOH) and their LGUs are strictly implemented and observed.
Having high vaccination levels among the students and faculty members, he added, also helped. “We will see in the next batch if our students and faculty members will remain safe before we decide,” De Vera added.