DESPITE THE improving pandemic situation in Metro Manila, some graduating Thomasians may no longer experience in-person learning during their last term in the University as administrators only intend to resume face-to-face classes for some programs during the remainder of the academic year.
“We do not aim to resume in-person classes for all degree programs this term,” Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Prof. Cheryl Peralta told The Flame Wednesday when asked whether it was possible to conduct face-to-face classes for all programs this term now that Metro Manila is under the lowest alert level status.
“Following the guiding principles espoused by the University in the reopening of campus to limited face-to-face classes, the University shall prioritize programs, year levels, and courses whose intended learning outcomes and competencies cannot be fully achieved through enriched virtual mode of instruction,” she added.
Peralta said such a policy would allow for a gradual return of students and academic staff to the campus, which in turn would manage the need to retrofit facilities and ensure the consistent and effective implementation of health protocols.
She issued the statement exactly two years after the University last conducted full-capacity in-person classes. The indefinite suspension of on-site learning started at 5 p.m. of March 9, 2020 when the University suspended classes to protect its students and employees from COVID-19.
Metro Manila’s classification was downgraded to the most lenient Alert Level 1 starting this month as COVID-19 case rates in the capital region decline. Under the alert status, schools may conduct in-person classes at full capacity. The government is expected to announce the updated risk classifications of areas by March 15.
Peralta said academic units that have complied with government requirements, completed the retrofitting of facilities, oriented stakeholders on health protocols, and secured approval from the University’s crisis management committee, are allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes.
She noted that the Commission on Higher Education allowed health programs like medicine, medical technology, physical therapy, and nursing to conduct limited on-site classes last year. Other programs that have commenced in-person classes this term are basic human studies, audiology, speech-language pathology, nutrition and dietetics, biology, chemistry, microbiology, and applied physics.
“These programs prioritized the conduct of in-person classes for skills-based courses,” Peralta said.
Earlier this week, Faculty of Arts and Letters Dean Marilu Madrunio told The Flame her college is preparing to request limited in-person classes for the broadcast and photojournalism course.
“Depending on the results of this initial move, we can include other courses later on and eventually cover the fieldwork for practicum as well,” Madrunio said in an email interview last March 3. F – Matthew Dave Jucom and Dawn Danielle Solano