Tuesday, January 31
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Open windows, health protocol tarpaulins: UST starts retrofitting of ‘new normal’ classrooms

by KAREN RENEE NOGOY

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WHEN THOMASIANS return to the University for in-person classes, they will be greeted with more spacious rooms, open windows, floor markings, and tarpaulins containing health protocols.

These are among the changes in classrooms that are retrofitted to comply with COVID-19 safety standards set by the government, the Facilities and Management Office (FMO) said.

Jared Gunting, FMO environmental health, safety, and crisis engineer, said the University has started retrofitting facilities of some degree programs in preparation for the possible implementation of limited face-to-face classes.

“We have already completed the retrofitting of facilities for some programs and they were already given approval from CHED (Commission on Higher Education) to conduct LF2F (limited face-to-face). We are also in the process of preparing other programs for F2F classes,” Gunting told The Flame in an email interview Monday.

Despite the easing of Metro Manila to the most lenient Alert Level 1, Gunting said the University would still adhere to minimum health and safety protocols set by the government. Under Alert Level 1 or the so-called “new normal,” classrooms may be filled up to their capacities but safety measures like the wearing of face masks, proper ventilation, and proper hygiene should still be observed.

Gunting said the physical classroom and laboratory setup was adjusted to observe physical distance. To ensure proper ventilation, doors and windows will be kept open.

“To maximize the space, unnecessary and excess furniture and materials are removed to (adjust) the quantity needed as per the declared maximum capacity of the space,” Gunting said.

“Signages are placed; floor markings for the hallways to the classroom. Large tarpaulins with minimum health and safety protocols are placed on all spaces being utilized,” he added.

The retrofitting of facilities, Gunting said, is based on the guidelines prescribed by a joint memorandum circular of CHED and the health department and the University’s protocols. The adjustments will also apply to hallways, stairways, bathrooms, and elevators.

A memorandum from the Office of the Secretary-General dated March 1 directed the FMO to continue retrofitting the facilities in coordination with the academic, administrative, and research units in line with existing government regulations.

The government’s pandemic task force allowed higher education institutions to hold face-to-face classes as Metro Manila and other areas were placed under Alert Level 1 because of decreasing COVID-19 case rates.

Some medical and allied health programs have started limited face-to-face classes in June last year. Limited in-person classes for students from the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management will start on April 18. F

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