MANILA (UPDATE) — The Commission on Higher Education said Wednesday it is eyeing the conduct of limited in-person classes in areas classified as low-risk modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) by January.
CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has adopted a policy that allows in-person or face-to-face classes in the lowest classification of community quarantine.
The learning sessions, however, need to comply with health protocols, and guidelines set by the commission and local governments, De Vera said.
"Even if this was approved by the IATF, realistically, the rollout would be on the second semester because of the health situation we have right now," he said at a Senate hearing.
De Vera explained that in the months leading up to January, he would be checking how colleges and universities planning to hold in-person classes reconfigured their classrooms to comply with health standards.
The health protocols include the mandatory wearing of face masks and shields, disinfection of premises, and social distancing, among others.
The commission will pick a "prototype" of a reconfigured classroom that other schools can adopt, he said.
De Vera stressed that no higher education institution is currently holding in-person classes.
"Ang umaandar pa lang na mode ngayon, iyong full online at saka 'yong flexible na online and offline," he said.
Higher education institutions would start their school year depending on their learning delivery mode, with those using flexible learning opening in August.
At the basic education level, President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the conduct of in-person classes in areas with low risk of COVID-19 transmission starting January 2021.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte allowed the resumption of in-person classes next year on the assumption that a COVID-19 vaccine would be available by then.
In-person classes were prohibited due to the continuing threat of the new coronavirus, which has infected over 112,000 in the Philippines.