by MATTHEW DAVE JUCOM
THE FACULTY of Arts and Letters (AB) has become cautious on the possible resumption of in-person classes during the second term as the Philippines wrestles with a rising number of COVID-19 cases tied to the more infectious Omicron variant.
“While we were considering limited face-to-face classes in one course in two programs before, it is not the case now after the faculty and chairs of the two programs met last year,” AB Dean Marilu Madrunio told The Flame Monday.
“It is still being considered, however, until that time that the departments have submitted their proposals and all queries have been addressed substantially, only then will we be able to finalize everything,” she added.
Last November, Madrunio said the faculty would prioritize the higher years in the communication and journalism programs for the limited in-person classes because they require face-to-face interactions. She issued the statement days after Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 2 because of the decreasing number of active COVID-19 cases.
However, a surge in infections linked to the increased mobility during the holidays and the more transmissible Omicron variant have prompted the government to raise the capital region’s status to the stricter Alert Level 3 last Jan. 3.
“Please note that it is a very difficult and important matter. Considering the uncertainties that we face especially with the Omicron variant, I hope you will note that we prioritize the safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” Madrunio said.
Under Alert Level 3, limited face-to-face classes in the college level are allowed but only vaccinated persons can participate and only up to 30 percent of indoor venues can be filled up.
The University is implementing a 30 percent indoor and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity for limited face-to-face classes and onsite work in compliance with government-issued protocols. Only fully-vaccinated individuals are allowed to enter the campus.
A recent poll conducted by The Flame indicated that majority of AB student leaders are supportive of the resumption of limited face-to-face classes in the coming term.
The Philippines posted a record-high 33,169 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing its active cases to157,526. F