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IATF permits full capacity for universities and colleges under Alert Level 1 areas

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has now allowed colleges and universities under Alert Level 1 areas to operate at 100% classroom capacity, said Malacañang on a press briefing last March 11, 2020, Friday.

According to deputy presidential spokesperson Kris Ablan, higher education institutions (HEIs) in areas under Alert Level 1 may allow a 100 percent maximum capacity for their classrooms, as stated in Resolution No. 164 of the IATF issued on Friday.

However, it was also stated in the Resolution that students and HEI employees must be fully vaccinated before participating in in-person classes. They also need to provide that they are registered with Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) or any medical insurance covering medical expenses related to COVID-19.

“HEIs shall ensure that students who will participate in the conduct of limited face-to-face classes are registered with PhilHealth or with equivalent medical insurance which covers medical expenses related to COVID-19, as either direct or indirect contributor,” the IATF resolution said. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students must then be allowed to conduct their studies in different flexible modalities to ensure the continuity of learning, according to IATF.

Although there are still health protocols to be followed, the IATF has clarified that there are no other restrictions for the operation of school dormitories, but HEIs are mandated to coordinate with their respective local government units for the said matter.

In addition, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) clarified that while the IATF has allowed the maximum operational capacity for in-person classes, the HEIs still have the final decision on how they would like to operate. “This means that even if the allowed capacity is 100% if the school thinks the system where fewer students are allowed to go to campus and classes will be held alternately is better, we will leave it up to them since they know the situation in their area,” CHED chair Prospero de Vera stated.

De Vera said that CHED still guides HEIs when preparing for the holding of in-person classes aligned with IATF’s guidelines. However, CHED mentioned that HEIs do not need to seek CHED’s authorization for these preparations. He also stated that there are 313 universities currently managing in-person classes, but more schools are expected to operate at certain classroom capacities next academic year.

Metro Manila and 39 other areas are currently on Alert Level 1. Meanwhile, establishments and public transportation are allowed to fully operate under Alert Level 1.

Photo credit: Inquirer.Net

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