Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Theresa Payongayong revealed that an ad hoc committee has been formed to prepare UP Diliman’s requirements for the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) approval of limited face-to-face classes in the campus.
On Oct. 11, CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III said that the commission is exploring the possibility of holding physical classes in areas with low COVID-19 cases and high vaccination rates.
“Baka papayagan na natin pagdating sa mga susunod na buwan ang mga eskwelahan na magli-limited face-to-face in all their degree programs as long as they abide by the guidelines and they are inspected,” de Vera said.
As of Oct. 20, there are 4,608 active cases of COVID-19 in Quezon City where the Diliman campus is located. Students are currently spread all over the country as they proceed with their second year in remote learning.
According to Payongayong, going back to physical classes will still depend on the “overall health situation of the country.” Nevertheless, preparations among the administration are currently underway.
A Crisis Management Committee Technical Team was formed by UPD Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo to jumpstart the preparation of the university’s classrooms, laboratories and studios.
Together with the ad hoc committee, the team crafted a set of guidelines on the possible conduct of physical classes. The guidelines were presented to the UP Diliman COVID-19 Task Force and, in a consultation with students last October 4, parents and deans of colleges that requested limited face-to-face classes.
In a Tinig ng Plaridel report, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) said that the College of Home Economics, College of Engineering, College of Science, College of Arts and Letters, College of Music, the Institute of Islamic Studies and the Archaeological Studies Program are among the academic units that have forwarded their requests for face-to-face classes.
Payongayong said that the guidelines prepared by the committees will incorporate comments and suggestions from the university’s relevant stakeholders.
“Parents and students want to make sure that it is safe to conduct limited face-to-face classes or activities,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (OVCSA) said that the vaccination program for UPD students is ready to commence.
The UPD University Student Council previously announced that 225 vaccination slots have been opened to all students on Oct. 20 on a first-come, first-served basis at the College of Human Kinetics Gym as part of the university’s Bakunahan sa Diliman vaccination drive.
The OVSCA said that it is now “gathering numbers on the vaccination status of students and sensing the scale of demand” and enjoined students to answer a vaccination survey.
While complete guidelines on the conduct of limited face-to-face are yet to be finalized, the OVCAA said that health and safety will be a top priority.
Payongayong lists the following factors to be considered by the university in gradually reopening the campus for limited physical classes:
- Safety of students, faculty, and staff is ensured.
- Guidelines on limited face-to-face classes/activities as well as health protocols are in place.
- Laboratories, studios, and classrooms that will be used for limited face-to-face classes/activities are prepared or retrofitted, and inspected and approved by CHED.
- The request for limited face-to-face classes/activities is approved by the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) through CHED.
She adds that returning to the campus will look different from how classes were conducted before the pandemic.
“I think future face-to-face classes will not be the same as the ones we have had pre-pandemic,” Payongayong said. “Standards might be stricter as health and safety protocols might continue to be implemented henceforth.”
According to the Vice Chancellor, the university is also exploring the possibility of blended learning in the post-pandemic setup.
“We envision classes where students take turns in attending face-to-face classes and doing online or remote learning, but this set-up still needs to be discussed,” she added.
Ligtas na Balik Eskwela
Various academic groups, including students and teachers, have been calling for the safe and gradual reopening of physical classes since the pandemic began last year.
Student councils across the UP system previously reported numerous issues faced by students amid the remote learning setup. These include delays in learning aids and scholarship grants.
On Oct. 20, youth sectoral party Kabataan Partylist filed the Safe Schools Reopening Bill which aims to “provide the framework and funding for the safe and phased reopening of schools.” DZUP