UST to push through with face-to-face graduation rites despite uptick in COVID cases

by ZOE AIRABELLE AGUINALDO and SHAYNE LEE MACARAEG

Batch 2022 graduates take oath as part of the solemn investiture rites. Photo by THE FLAME

THE UNIVERSITY will push through with onsite graduation ceremonies despite the rising number of COVID-19 infections in the country.

In an email interview with The Flame, executive assistant to the Office of the Secretary-General (OSG) Emmanuel Batulan said the commencement exercises would follow government regulations and strictly observe the strategic plans of academic units.

“The Central Committee on University Events, as it has finalized schedules as early as March 2023, is set to push through with the in-person [solemn investiture rites],” Batulan said.

“Depending on government regulations, the University will push through with the scheduled [solemn investiture rites], in the most practical and creative way (while) putting a premium on everyone’s safety and security.”

Ceremonies for Student Awards Day, Baccalaureate and Thanksgiving masses, and solemn investiture rites will be held on campus, according to an OSG circular dated March 23.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency of international concern, noting that the pandemic has been in a downward trend for the past year.

The Philippines has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases recently, with Metro Manila’s positivity rate rising from 11.7% in April 24 to 18.8% in May 1, according to OCTA Research. However, most of the pandemic infections are mild or asymptomatic.

Batulan said UST is reviewing its health guidelines, citing the need to proactively prepare for curricular and extra-curricular activities. “The University is cognizant of this situation through reports coming from the academic units validated against ThOMedSS (Thomasian Online Medical Services and Support)-generated data,” he said.

According to Batulan, UST health guidelines are “due for review and updating as necessary” in the coming week.

“The reviewed guidelines will be issued to the academic units. We advise that you keep in touch with your academic unit,” he said.

While the wearing of face masks is no longer required under the country’s eased pandemic protocols, University officials still advise Thomasians to do so to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. F

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