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MU commences limited face-to-face classes for 3rd Quarter A.Y. 2021-2022

Article by: Crismhil S. Anselmo, Robert Kobe T. Garcia, and Rad Lem-ew Vince B. Balisong

Graphics by: Aliza Belle C. Dayao and Ma. Alyssa Therese S. Manalang

With the approval from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and City of Manila government, Mapúa University (MU) recently held limited face-to-face classes for select engineering laboratory courses last February 28. 

Reopening the red and gold doors

In an email interview with MU Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs (EVPAA) Dr. Bonifacio T. Doma Jr. last March 3, he shared that the University has been coordinating with concerned authorities to implement in-person learning delivery since last year. “[MU had] submitted to CHED all required documents for offering limited face-to-face delivery last November 2021,” the EVPAA remarked.

Dr. Doma stated that the University was able to acquire the required certification from the Manila City LGU as mandated by CHED-DOH Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2021-004  on the guidelines for the gradual reopening of campuses, which allowed the University to pursue limited in-person classes for the current term.

Prior to the certification, the University released the guidelines for the 3rd Quarter last February 10, which stated that the primary mode of learning will remain fully online while 12 engineering laboratory courses and on-site thesis work will offer a face-to-face delivery option. The selected courses have been restricted to the Intramuros campus and will be conducted during Weeks 2, 4, 6, and 9 of the current term.

Furthermore, students participating in limited in-person classes are required to be fully vaccinated and must either be a holder or beneficiary of medical insurance which covers COVID-19-related medical expenses. To help students prepare, the University released various options for insurance applications such as PhilHealth, Malayan’s Vital Cover, and GCash/GInsure, among others.  

Documents providing proof of these requirements were needed to be submitted to the Registrar’s Office via email last February 24. Moreover, as of March 3, Dr. Doma noted that there were approximately 140 students who had submitted these necessary documents to the Registrar. 

In preparation for the conduct of face-to-face learning, the University also released visual materials detailing the health and safety protocols which are needed to be observed on campus.

In a later announcement, MU also shared that other students enrolled in the aforementioned laboratory classes may participate in in-person classes in later weeks (Week 4, 6, and 9), provided that they submit necessary documents beforehand. Meanwhile, the guidelines also specified areas for lounging and advice on meals since the canteen will remain closed until further notice. On the other hand,  the main library and laboratory facilities for onsite thesis work will be on reservation-based access.

Students who submitted their proof of vaccination status and proof of registration with PhilHealth or medical insurance covering COVID-19 to the Registrar’s Office by March 11 have been allowed to conduct onsite thesis work by March 14. 

In terms of fees, Dr. Doma noted that for the current term, there will be no difference regardless of learning delivery. “…same fees will be implemented for students who participate in limited face-to-face and those who participate in fully online mode,” he stated. 

Transitioning to the new normal

Pursuant to CHED-DOH JMC 2021-004, MU will continue to enforce strict health protocols to ensure the safety of students and staff. Aside from requiring full vaccination status and registration to medical insurance, Dr. Doma assured the Mapúa community that health and safety standards would be reinforced. “ distancing in the laboratories and in the campus will be strictly observed. Everyone is also required to wear mask at all times,” he elaborated.

According to some students participating in limited face-to-face classes, one-way markers have been placed around the campus whereas disinfectants are stationed in and out of the classrooms. Meanwhile, the entrance is still located at the main gate and the exit is situated near the chapel. Additionally, only two people at a time are allowed to use comfort rooms.

Inside the classrooms, windows and doors are kept open to ensure proper ventilation. Three to four seats are placed as distance markers to ensure appropriate social distancing. There are also no acrylic barriers, and face shields are not mandatory. 

Camille Taba, a third-year Civil Engineering (CE) student, lauded the University’s efforts to assure the safety of the workers and students on the campus. She also added that it felt “nostalgic” for her to return to the University after two years. 

It brings back every memory I had during my [freshman] year – [the] long walks inside Intramuros kahit napakainit, tapping my ID which somehow felt different[…], and the vibe of the campus itself,” Taba expounded. The CE student conducted her laboratory class in one of the rooms on the ground floor of the South building. 

Meanwhile, Adrian Isidro-Sacil, a second-year Electronics Engineering (ECE) student, expressed his satisfaction with how well-enforced the health protocols were around the campus. Having been a student at the University since he was in Senior High School, he is not new to how the University is managed. 

Number one –  distancing [was well] implemented sa classrooms... Number two – [mayroon ng] mga one-way na daanan... Number three is yung disinfection, […] may [containers of] alcohol all throughout Mapúa […]” Sacil added. He conducted his laboratory class in the communications lab on the second floor of the North building. 

Embracing post-pandemic Mapúan learning

With the placement of Metro Manila under Alert Level 1, CE student Taba is hopeful that things will return to normal soon. “My suggestion so far... Mapúa should offer more subjects to take in [limited face-to-face] courses so that other students can go back to regular classes,” she remarked.

Meanwhile, ECE student Isidro-Sacil called on fellow Mapúans to participate in the newly offered learning modality. “Sasabihin ko lang to sa kapwa kong Mapúans na kung pwede kayo... mag face-to-face, take niyo na yung opportunity kasi nandoon na yung physical [components]. Marami kayong matutunan,” the ECE student encouraged.

On the matter of the conduct of classes in succeeding terms, Dr. Doma assured that there will be numerous options for post-pandemic learning. “All these modalities: face-to-face, blended, synchronous and asynchronous online will remain as options post-pandemic, both in undergraduate and graduate courses," the EVPAA stated.

Last March 11, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed colleges and universities in areas under Alert Level 1 to conduct face-to-face classes at a maximum of 100% capacity. However, the University has yet to announce its plans regarding the learning setup for the upcoming terms for college students following the approval of IATF. 

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