FILE PHOTO (Photo by Camille Abiel H. Torres/ The Varsitarian)

MANILA Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Wednesday approved UST’s proposal to resume limited face-to-face classes for medical and allied health programs.

UST officials, including Faculty of Medicine and Surgery Dean Lourdes Maglinao, College of Rehabilitation Sciences Dean Dr. Anne Aseron and Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Prof. Cheryl Peralta, met with Domagoso and Manila Vice Mayor Ma. Sheilah “Honey” Lacuña-Panganon Wednesday to “discuss how the educational institution would observe health and safety protocols,” the Manila Public Information Office (PIO) said in a press release.

UST also proposed contingency plans in case students, faculty or staffers developed Covid-19 symptoms.

Peralta earlier told the Varsitarian that the University had submitted its application to conduct limited face-to-face medical clerkship to the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) in December 2020 and to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)  for Emerging Infectious Diseases in January 2021.

“We are currently coordinating with all concerned offices and stakeholders regarding the preparations that need to be undertaken to ensure compliance with all health and safety protocols,” Peralta said in an email dated Jan. 26.

Limitations on ‘limited’ face-to-face classes

Last week, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte had approved the resumption of in-person classes for select medical programs for the second term of the ongoing academic year in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ. Metro Manila is currently under GCQ.

CHEd Chairman Prospero de Vera III has also stressed that only students 20 years old and above would be allowed to attend face-to-face classes and that participation would not be mandatory.

“[H]indi ito sapilitan. Ibig sabihin, iyong mga estudyante na ayaw mag-face-to-face kailangan bigyan ng alternatibo ng mga pamantasan kaya dapat sila’y magkonsultasyon sa kanilang mga estudyante at mga magulang ‘no,” de Vera said in a Laging Handa briefing on Feb. 1.

Schools seeking approval to hold face-to-face classes must have retrofitted facilities and passed inspection by health authorities.

In the meeting, Domagoso emphasized that students should not be forced into attending face-to-face classes.

“Huwag niyong pilitin ang ayaw, kasi baka may masabi sa inyo,” he said.

Domagoso also revealed that teachers would be among those to be prioritized for Covid-19 vaccination in the city.

According to Peralta, the University would “make formal announcements to the public once we are granted approval by the relevant government offices.”

CSC President Robert Gonzales, a medicine senior, urged Thomasians on Twitter to not panic.

“All these guidelines and resumptions are… subject to your ‘consent’ and rest assured that our safety has been of utmost priority as [UST officials] were formulating these guidelines,” he wrote.

Among the schools that have been allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes are the University of the Philippines Manila, Ateneo de Manila University and the Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela. with reports from Nuel Sabate


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