The Ateneo de Davao University administration has made a ‘practical decision’ that next academic year would still be online, said University President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ.
“I don’t think that we will be able to do blended learning, certainly not in the 1st semester, and if possible in the 2nd semester, we really have to assess what the situation is after the 1st semester. But personally, at this point, I don’t think it’s probable. I don’t think it’s impossible, but I don’t think it’s probable,” he said in a town hall conversation with students yesterday.
Tabora added that the administration has already approved tuition and other fees that are appropriate to the online setup.
“What is being charged are rates that assume that we will not be using the facilities of the university in a big way, because if we did, we would then have to get the janitors, the guards, the sanitation equipment and etcetera and we would have to recalculate what would need to be charged in order to be able to do blended learning this year,” he said.
While he stated he is open to reconsideration for the second semester, he also warned that this would have financial consequences for enrollees.
“I would, however, be open to the reconsideration of this for the second semester depending on the safety of opening blended learning for the 2nd semester, but it will have financial consequences,” he said.
“In the dialogues that we have had with parents, let me say that the parents are grateful that the expenses of education do not have to be so high in this pandemic year,” he added.
In February 2021, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) issued guidelines on the gradual reopening of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) offering health-related degree programs in Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) and General Community Quarantine (GCQ) areas.
By March this year, it approved 24 colleges and universities to reopen for limited face-to-face classes. Despite offering a BS Nursing program, AdDU was not included in the said list.
Atenews tried to reach out to the Academic Vice President on the matter but has not received a response as of posting time.
In an interview on Davao City Disaster Radio last May, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio also expressed that she is not keen on allowing physical classes for the academic year 2021-2022, although Davao City Executive Order 12 Series of 2021 currently allows limited face-to-face interaction in HEIs for examinations and laboratory activities.
Due to the spike of COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, Davao City was placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) from June 5 until June 20, 2021.
Classes will begin on July 1 in Ateneo de Davao University for undergraduates and June 14 for graduate students.
No vaccination, no entry
Should the AdDU administration reconsider to pursue blended learning within the academic year, Tabora said that vaccination would still be necessary for face-to-face campus interactions.
According to him, this does not contradict with the city ordinance banning private companies from requiring their employees and students to get vaccine jabs.
“… while we have employed people and while we have students who are all enrolled, it doesn’t mean, under the conditions that we have, that they shall have access to face-to-face interaction because we can employ people and keep them on online engagement and we can have students who are enrolled but do not have access to face-to-face interaction,” he said.
“…as I can see, the only way that we can protect each other from infection under pandemic conditions is to make face-to-face interaction in our campus conditional on vaccination insofar as vaccination is possible. So certainly for students in higher education, I would consider vaccination necessary for face-to-face interaction on campus,” he added.
With the government’s prioritization scheme that applies both to private and government vaccination, however, Tabora said students are in the “waiting game” before their cluster can be accommodated.
Vaccination is ongoing for priority group A4 including government and other essential workers, according to an article by the Philippine News Agency. Students are categorized under priority group B4.
Meanwhile, AdDU Executive Vice President Jeremy Eliab disclosed that there will be a delay in the arrival of AdDU’s expected Covavax vaccine orders.
“As of the moment Covavax has also not applied yet [for an Emergency Use Authorization] with the FDA so it remains unseen when the Covavax vaccines will arrive,” he said.
“We will advise our A4 employees to avail of [the vaccines from the government]. We rather not wait for our vaccines. We should get whatever is available so that our employees, especially our skeleton workforce, are protected.”
AdDU’s first batch of orders was initially allocated for teachers and staff while students were projected to be included in the second batch.