University of the Philippines Considers face-to-face classes
A subcommittee of the University of the Philippines Presidential Advisory Council (UP PAC) expounded on guidelines for the safe return to face-to-face classes in the wake of the pandemic during an online UP System-wide faculty summit on February 28, 2022.
The summit resulted from Memorandum 2021-169 from the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (OVPAA) on December 16, 2021, with the subject: “Guidelines on the gradual re-opening of UP campuses beginning Second Semester AY 2021-2022”.
The memorandum confirmed that UP residential campuses are gradually re-opening for the Second Semester of AY 2021-2022, “specifically for courses in the curriculum for which face-to-face classes or activities are necessary to achieve the stipulated learning outcomes.”
UP Los Baños Chancellor Jose Camacho Jr., chair of the PAC Sub-Committee for the University’s Preparations for Face-to-Face Classes, said that face-to-face classes allowed under COVID Alert Level 3 or lower, the subcommittee had recommended limited practice of face-to-face courses of “the shortest duration possible.”
Camacho said the top priority is given to graduating students who must do field or laboratory work for their thesis or dissertation, followed by students in their last academic year who are required to train for their licensure examinations. Next are students in their penultimate year before graduation who need skills training in the laboratory, field, studio, etc. The last priority is for students in any academic year who need skills training in the laboratory, field, studio, etc.
According to the OVPAA memorandum, “the rest of the courses will continue to be delivered remotely, mixing synchronous (online) and asynchronous learning, guided by the course learning outcomes.”
“The faculty shall continue to prepare course packs—detailed course guide, learning resources, activity/study guide—for all courses to be offered in the Second Semester AY 2021-2022,” the memorandum added.
The PAC subcommittee said that for the face-to-face classes, a student-shifting cycle in facilities should be in place, which would allow a “fallow” time of at least 15 minutes between uses by separate groups of students. Before this, they should have determined the allowable capacity for each facility; and given such, decided if sections or classes would be split.
The campuses should also be working on:
- Spaces for internet connectivity of students
- A daily health monitoring system and curfew times, as well as a system on physical requirements, screening, and travel
- Instructions on public health control and protocols for posting, as well as guidelines for conduct of on-campus students, guests, and the public in accessing UP facilities; and
- Guides and plans for general use of facilities, on-site activities, and food concessionaires
Based on guidelines from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on returning to face-to-face classes, previewed during a December 1, 2021 press conference, UP and other higher educational institutions (HEIs) under Alert Levels 1 to 3 needed only to conduct a self-assessment on their readiness to re-open campuses for limited face-to-face classes, submit a copy of the checklist to their respective regional offices with a Notarized Affidavit of Undertaking, and obtain a clearance from the local government unit.
The CHED also reiterated the provision in the earlier CHED-DOH Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2021-001, released on February 10, 2021, stating that students participating in face-to-face classes must be registered in the HEI/health facility with PhilHealth or equivalent medical insurance that covers COVID-related expenses. Only fully vaccinated students, faculty members, and HEI personnel would be allowed to participate in the classes.