2 Cebu HEIs approve face-to-face classes in MGCQ areas

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TWO higher education institutions (HEIs) in Cebu that offer medical and allied health programs welcome the announcement of the Palace confirming that medical schools in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status and similar HEIs in areas under GCQ with base hospitals that cater to Covid-19 patients can now gradually resume limited face-to-face classes.

Peter Aznar, dean of the School of Medicine of the Southwestern University (SWU) Phinma, said this is a welcome development as he said clinical exposure is a necessity in producing good doctors.

He, however, said strict monitoring of participants and aseptic techniques should be practiced.

Likewise, University of Cebu (UC) chancellor Candice Gotianuy said laboratory subjects are “extremely” important in the cultivation of skills not just for medicine, but for other technical courses as well.

She said this development with medical and allied professionals is a good move and that the UC School of Medicine will be “very strict” in implementing the required health and safety protocol.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in a press briefing with the media in Malacañang on Jan. 26, said limited face-to-face classes for medicine students and professionals including other allied professionals are essential to make sure their numbers are enough.

Jogi Rivamonte, Education Supervisor II and Commission on Higher Education (Ched) 7 coordinator on health-realted profession programs, said it is not mandatory, but voluntary on the part of the medical schools and universities to apply for permit from Ched for the limited face-to-face classes as this also comes with stringent requirements that they have to comply with.

She said the school can opt to start with the face-to-face classes as long as they will be given a permit by Ched.

However, she also said if based on the assessment of the school, they will have difficulty in complying with all the set requirements, then the schools can opt to continue implementing a flexible mode of learning.

Among the minimum public health standards required by the Department of Health include reduced exposure of vulnerable population through flexible work and study arrangements and student grouping or shifting in the HEI.

The HEI must also ensure that there is proper and regular wearing of the appropriate personal protective equipment such as face shields and masks by the students, faculty and staff while inside the campus.

Appropriate case detection, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation measures should also be in place before the reopening of the HEI.

Conduct of extracurricular activities is also not allowed.

The validity of the authority or permit will be for two semesters upon approval of the application of the university./ WBS