IATF green-lights limited face-to-face classes in colleges, universities under ALS

Published November 17, 2021, 11:09 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has approved resolution no. 148-G, which adopts the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) proposed phased implementation of limited face-to-face classes for all programs under the Alert Levels System (ALS) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (Photo from Karlo Nograles’s Facebook)

This was announced in a statement by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Wednesday, Nov. 17, saying that the approval was handed down by IATF the previous day.

“Based under the guidelines on the nationwide implementation of [ALS] for COVID-19 response, limited face-to-face classes are now allowed under alert levels 1, 2 and 3, subject to certain conditions, such as (1) 50 percent indoor venue capacity, (2) no opposition from the local government unit (LGU) concerned, and (3) participation of fully vaccinated teaching and non-teaching personnel and students only,” the statement read.

“Under the said proposal, the CHED is mandated to execute the phased implementation program to ensure the safe reopening of higher education campuses,” Nograles, who was recently named acting presidential spokesperson, also stated.

The phase 1 implementation period shall be from December 2021 onwards. During this phase, all higher education institutions (HEIs) in areas under alert level 2 may apply for limited face-to-face classes, Nograles said.

Meanwhile, the phase 2 implementation period shall be from January 2022 onwards. In this phase, all HEIs in areas under alert level 3 may apply for limited face-to-face classes.

The phased implementation of face-to-face classes in HEIs shall be done consistent with Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2021-001, or the guidelines on the gradual reopening of campuses of higher education institutions (HEIs) for limited face-to-face classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, issued by CHED and the Department of Health (DOH).

This circular serves as a guide for HEIs that intend to hold limited face-to-face classes and are willing to assume the responsibilities for the reopening of their campuses based on the following: (1) their capability to comply with health and safety protocols, (2) to retrofit their facilities, and (3) to get the support of their stakeholders.

“The IATF would like to reiterate that the phased implementation of limited face-to-face classes in HEIs should be done alongside the continued implementation of proactive measures and restrictions that have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and have contributed to the steady decline in COVID-19 cases in the country. These include the vaccination of all eligible individuals, the wearing of masks, social distancing, and hand-washing,” Nograles said.

“As we slowly and cautiously open our college classrooms, we urge all stakeholders involved to work together to ensure the safety of our students so that they may be able to return to their schools secure in the knowledge that every effort has been made to safeguard their health,” the Cabinet Secretary added.