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The IATF has approved a proposal to offer face-to-face classes in higher education institutions.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has endorsed the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) recommendation to deploy in-person classes in higher education institutions in stages (HEIs).

Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the IATF-EID approved the proposed resumption of limited face-to-face (F2F) classes for all degree programs following the phased and nationwide implementation of the Alert Levels System (ALS) for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Resolution 148-G on Tuesday.

In a press statement, Nograles added, “Under the abovementioned plan, the CHED is obligated to execute the phased implementation program to assure the safe reopening of higher education institutions.”

Limited F2F classes are now permitted in locations designated as Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3, subject to specified criteria, under the guidelines for the nationwide implementation of ALS.

Classes will be allowed to reopen on the condition that room capacity be limited to 50%, that participants are only fully-vaccinated teaching and non-teaching professionals and students, and that concerned local government entities provide their approval.

According to Nograles, Phase 1 of the deployment of limited F2F classes will begin in December 2021, while Phase 2 will begin in January 2022.

All HEIs in areas under Alert Level 2 may request for the resumption of physical classes during Phase 1, according to Nograles.

HEIs in locations with an Alert Level 3 may apply for limited F2F classes during Phase 2 implementation, according to Nograles.

“The gradual introduction of face-to-face classes in HEIs shall be done in accordance with Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2021-001, or the Guidelines on the Gradual Reopening of Campuses of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) for Limited Face-to-Face Classes During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” he said.

The circular, according to Nograles, will serve as a guide for HEIs that want to offer limited face-to-face classes and are willing to take on the responsibility of reopening their campuses.

HEIs must follow health and safety procedures, upgrade their facilities, and gain the backing of their stakeholders, according to Nograles.

“The IATF would like to emphasize that the gradual implementation of limited face-to-face classes in HEIs should be done in tandem with the continued implementation of proactive measures and restrictions that have been put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and have contributed to the steady decline in Covid-19 cases in the country,” he said.

Nograles also encouraged everyone who was eligible to take part in the reopening of courses to keep their face masks on, maintain social distance, and wash their hands.

“As we slowly and cautiously open our college classrooms, we urge all stakeholders to work together to assure the safety of our students so that they may return to their schools knowing that every precaution has been taken to protect their health,” Nograles stated.

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