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Universities, colleges that can handle 'flexible' learning may open in August -CHED

Higher education institutions (HEIs) that are fully capable of implementing a "flexible" learning environment may open the next academic year in August, while those that are planning to continue with the traditional, face-to-face learning may do so in September or even later.

This was the proposal of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) amid uncertainties in the resumption of classes in the country in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) health crisis.

During the virtual meeting of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education on Thursday, CHED chair Prospero De Vera III said the commission now intends to move to "flexible" learning amid the threat of COVID-19, which he said is different from "online" learning.

He explained that while online learning primarily uses digital technology that requires Internet connectivity, flexible learning is broader in a sense that it addresses the unique situations of students when it comes to pace, place, process and products of learning.

"HEIs that are using flexible learning can open in August 2020... [as they] can actually continue their semesters even if there's an ECQ because it is completely online and therefore there is no problem of social distancing and the others," De Vera said.

"Other HEIs [that] are planning to have significant residential or face-to-face learning can open in September or even later in areas that are under modified ECQ," he added.

De Vera said CHED will be assisting HEIs to move to flexible learning, and this includes capacity building or training of faculty members, helping universities and colleges to set up their learning management system to put together resources that they will need to hold classes.

CHED earlier allowed universities and colleges using the old academic calendar to finish the current semester by April 30, and those using the new calendar to extend for up to a month after the lifting of the Luzon ECQ.

Meanwhile, universities offering degree programs with clinic duties such as medicine, nursing and allied medical professions are given flexibility to extend and adjust their calendar and prepare a catch up plan for their students.

Universities that offer programs requiring internships were also told not to allow their students to go back to their on the job training, as companies may not be ready to accept them or they might not be safe to continue.

CHED said that the rest of the requirements for internship of a student from March 15 onwards will be done in the university or with the university. -NB, GMA News