Benilde Chancellor Benhur Ong confirmed the College eyes the resumption of limited face-to-face classes for selected courses under the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management (SHRIM) in the third term of Academic Year 2021-2022. This is following the pronouncement of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on allowing limited face-to-face classes in areas under Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3.
Benilde’s strategic prioritization of degree programs
In an interview with The Benildean, Vice Chancellor Angelo Lacson clarified that the College will not be holding limited face-to-face classes for all programs all at once. Rather, courses that require laboratory classes will be prioritized, especially in the SHRIM program. Furthermore, the limited face-to-face delivery will mostly include laboratory classes rather than lectures.
“The timeline is that we are going to start offering limited face-to-face classes or laboratories starting third term this school year so we’re looking at a timeline of May. That’s when we hope to open at least ‘yung mga major subjects under the SHRIM kasi ‘yun naman talaga ‘yung mga major issues,” Mr. Ong added.
As for School of Design and Arts (SDA) programs, the College still needs to address a number of complications such as limited room capacity. But if possible, limited face-to-face classes for selected SDA degree programs will also be offered in May 2022 as well.
Since the application for authorization to conduct limited face-to-face classes is done per program, the programs that will be prioritized are SHRIM, SDA, and Information Technology courses under School of Management and Information Technology (SMIT). The Chancellor also noted that other programs such as School of Diplomacy and Governance (SDG) and SMIT’s management courses will not be prioritized at the moment as these programs do not require physical interaction and can still survive virtually.
In line with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) conditions for conducting physical classes, Benilde is planning to submit the requirements for authorization to conduct limited face-to-face classes by January 2022 and anticipates the inspection of facilities by February or March, in time for the target opening date of limited physical classes.
Mr. Ong also mentioned that the College has already started retrofitting its facilities through conducting intensive maintenance to ensure that all equipment is working. While Mr. Lacson explained that each program has also identified the courses to prioritize, the number of students that can participate in the limited face-to-face classes, and the number of sections to open per course.
Once limited face-to-face sessions start, Benilde will still continue offering the same classes for all courses in the online modality for students who are unable to participate physically and for courses not part of the strategic prioritization.
The Cyclic Model
To conform to the 50% room capacity imposed by the IATF, Benilde will be adapting a cyclic model for face-to-face courses wherein students will have one-week physical classes followed by two-week online classes and another week of face-to-face sessions. There shall be a two-week interval in between the one-week physical classes to allow the students to have a 14-day isolation period.
According to CHED’s guidelines, students can spend a maximum of four hours and 30 minutes per course on a limited face-to-face delivery. However, Benilde will only hold a maximum of four hours for each laboratory class. In case the students have more than one laboratory class for the day, their schedule would be 8:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m and 1:00 to 5:00 pm with a one-hour break in between. For some programs that are preparing for midterm or final projects, limited face-to-face classes will be done prior to the execution of the project.
On ensuring everyone’s safety
Mr. Ong emphasized that the utmost priority of DLS-CSB is to provide a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Hence, the College highly encourages its students to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
Some of the guidelines to be implemented are wearing of personal protective equipment such as face masks and face shields, having a personal hygiene kit, maintaining social distance, and limiting the number of people in a laboratory. The presentation of negative swab tests is still being discussed.
Aside from being fully vaccinated, Mr. Ong stressed that students must be a Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) beneficiary to be qualified for the limited physical classes, "Kailangan kapag sasali ka sa limited face-to-face classes dapat may PhilHealth coverage ka at the very least. If you're below 21, you can still use the coverage of your parents para ma-cover kayo, but if you're 21 and above, medyo may problema ka [nang] kaunti because you have to get your own."
He also added that there will be different plans for different alert levels, “We’re planning for playbooks. Different playbooks for different alert levels. ‘Pag alert level one, we will use playbook A. ‘Pag alert level two, we will use playbook B, and so on.”
According to the results of the Office of the Vice President for Lasallian Mission and Student Life’s survey on the gradual resumption of face-to-face classes, 3,597 students out of the 4,105 students who responded are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, Nov. 17.
On Nov. 19, Benilde administrators discussed initial plans about face-to-face classes and operations with student leaders and representatives. They also answered students’ various concerns such as safety protocols, transportation, conducting organizational activities, and more.