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VPAA says face-to-face classes not in ‘full swing’

by Francis Ryan Pabiania | November 20, 2021

Considering the current situation and ideal rate of vaccination, the expected face-to-face classes for all programs in Silliman University may not be in “full swing” for the second semester, according to Dr. Earl Jude Paul Cleope, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“Honestly and with all candidness, I don’t think that in the second semester, the F2F modality will really be in full swing,” he said. 

Recently, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) announced that there is an approval of limited F2F classes for higher education institutions (HEIs) in areas with the Alert Level 3 status or lower, which Negros Oriental now falls under.

Following the downgrading of Negros Oriental to Alert Level 2 status and CHED approval on the limited face-to-face classes for all levels, the possible implementation must be “studied well,” said Dr. Cleope.

Prior to the Alert Level 2 status that allowed all levels to have face-to-face classes that started last November 14 approved by CHED, the Alert Level 4 status allowed only the interns and fourth-year level students to participate in the limited face-to-face classes. Silliman University still waits for guidelines from CHED and the local IATF on classes, protocol implementations, and others. 

“Because [sic] we understand that the initial assessment is [that] only 50% [of the usual capacity] will be allowed, but considering that students in Silliman do not only come from Dumaguete and Negros but they come from all over the Philippines and even beyond, this will really have to be studied well.  We are waiting for specific and definite guidelines from the proper agencies of government,” Cleope said.

If CHED will issue the guidelines and even push for face-to-face classes, Dr. Cleope said that Silliman has its own COVID-19 committee, with all its members, deans, and all other parties in the university. “We would even involve the student government. We would really have to sit down and decide whether to follow CHED memorandum but still be compliant because my worry is [that] we open and then all of a sudden there is a surge and then we go back to Alert Level 4 or 5,” he added.

According to him, not all courses and all levels will be included immediately, only those that were approved by CHED when they issued a memorandum order, which included the College of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Laboratory and Sciences, Institute of Rehabilitative Sciences, and College of Nursing.

He pointed out that there are still a lot of surges in other countries. He said that the university always goes to the “side of safety”. The modalities for the next semester would possibly be online distance learning from the start of the semester up to the midterm week and would possibly move gradually to face-to-face classes during the final term if all conditions are achieved.

“That would be better, rather than saying outrightly that we are ready for F2F by January 2022 for the second semester. We will have to be very circumspect; very careful. But at the same time, I have to tell you honestly that all of us would really want to have a F2F but [sic] with the realization that it’s not going to be full F2F now. With this, there might be blended [classes] or other modalities that will now enhance the good things about ODL, but of course having F2F, that probably will be a very good new normal for all the students and faculty,” Dr. Cleope said.

He urged students, faculty, and staff to take the opportunity to get vaccinated and mentioned that studies have proven that vaccination is one of the key important measures to protect those around them while preventing the COVID-19 virus from spreading.

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