Extreme heat: UST to suspend onsite classes only when required by government

UST sets heat safety measures as hybrid learning stays
Photo by Grehmalyne Carandang/THE FLAME

ONSITE CLASSES in the University of Santo Tomas would only be suspended due to extreme heat if instructed by the government, the Office of the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs (OVRAA) said.

The protocol on suspending face-to-face classes is included in the OVRAA memorandum that enumerated UST’s heat mitigation measures during the remaining days of the academic year.

“We continue with hybrid instruction (onsite and online classes, as scheduled) unless the government mandates the suspension of face-to-face (onsite) classes for all schools (including private institutions),” the memorandum dated April 30 and signed by academic affairs chief Prof. Cheryl Peralta read.

The University suspended face-to-face classes from April 24 to 26 due to the expected high heat indices in Manila. Onsite classes scheduled for April 29 and 30 were also moved online because of transport strikes.

Last April 26, UST said it would return to hybrid instruction to ensure learners would attain the needed competencies in time for the conduct of high-stakes assessments.

Among the primary mitigation measures of OVRAA is accommodating students inside air-conditioned facilities, including the UST Miguel de Benavides Library and vacant classrooms.

The office also advised Thomasians to travel to and from the campus “during cooler times of the day,” or before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m., and bring food “to eliminate the need to buy outside during mid-day and increase the chances of sustained heat exposure.”

Academic units holding outdoor and strenuous physical activities, such as those under the physical education and National Service Training Program subjects, have been instructed to modify their plans based on the predicted heat index.

In the guidelines released by the UST Health Service, rescheduling or cancellation of such activities is recommended when the heat index reaches 42 to 51 degrees Celsius.

Metro Manila experienced a heat index of around 40 to 43 degrees Celsius from May 3 to 7. It recorded its highest heat index this year at 46 degrees Celsius last April 28.

According to OVRAA, all high-stakes assessments would still be done onsite as scheduled, while academic units would determine when to reschedule such activities if face-to-face classes are suspended.

“In the worst-case scenario of several days of suspension of onsite classes, university- and unit-level officials shall continuously monitor and evaluate the situation and decide how to enable students to complete their course requirements and finish the term.”

The weather bureau said extreme heat may still persist in the country as higher temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius are expected until the second week of May. However, thunderstorms may still occur during the second half of the month. F – Carlo Jose Ruga 

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