Colleges in areas under Alert Levels 1-3 can resume limited in-person classes
MANILA, Philippines — Almost two years since the pandemic began, Justin Peter Guzman, a journalism sophomore at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, has yet to step foot on the campus.
Guzman said online distance learning provided no opportunity for fieldwork which could have allowed him to mingle with the community as part of his traning.
The lack of support and a clear delineation between his academic life and personal time were also tough for Guzman, “because when you are at home, there are so many distractions and problems that you need to attend to aside from your (study) backlog.”
“I’ve had so [many] breakdowns because my anxiety just worsened to the point that it was affecting everything in my life,” he said.
But this taxing setup for the UP student and his counterparts in other universities and colleges might soon change after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved the limited face-to-face classes for all degree programs in areas under Alert Levels 1 to 3.
The IATF approved on Tuesday a resolution adopting the Commission on Higher Education’s proposal for a phased implementation of limited in-person classes.
Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles, who also cochairs the IATF, said the conduct of in-person classes would be implemented in stages to ensure safety in the school premises.
Under the government guidelines, limited classes are allowed in areas under alert levels 1, 2 and 3, subject to certain conditions. These include limiting indoor capacity to 50 percent, securing approval from the host local government, and ensuring that participating students, teachers and other school employees are fully vaccinated.
Nograles said that during Phase 1, which will be from December 2021 onwards, all higher education institutions (HEIs) in areas under alert level 2 may apply for limited in-person classes.
Phase 2 will be from January 2022 onwards, during which HEIs in areas under alert level 3 may apply.
HEIs intending to hold limited face-to-face classes must be willing to assume responsibility for the campus reopening, ensure compliance with health and safety protocols, retrofit their facilities, and secure the support of their stakeholders.
Source of stress
According to a study by Agham Youth National (AYN), the academic workload remains the primary source of stress among students under the remote learning setup.
Out of the study’s 433 respondents, 89.4 percent agreed or strongly agreed that their mental health was negatively affected by the pandemic.Only 16.2 percent said their universities provided enough support regarding their mental health issues.
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