CHED rejects calls for nationwide, Luzon-wide academic break; says class suspension up to schools

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 17)— The Commission on Higher Education on Tuesday opposed calls for both a nationwide and Luzon-wide “academic break” in the aftermath of recent calamities, saying that decisions on class suspensions would be up to concerned institutions.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera argued against a unilateral policy on the academic breaks, saying school authorities “are in the best situation to decide" on the matter.

“No to both, especially for the nationwide academic break because the impact of the typhoon and the disasters are different across different parts of the country,” De Vera said in an interview with The Source. “Number two, no also to the Luzon-wide (break) because the universities are already deciding on it.”

“We leave that to the school authorities, because different schools and different students and families are affected differently. A unilateral suspension is not a good policy, because we cannot make unilateral decisions that are not based on what is actually happening on the ground. School authorities are in the best situation to decide on this,” he explained, adding that universities have their own academic freedom.

Calls for an academic break resurfaced following the consecutive typhoons that struck the country, with netizens raising the challenges the disasters’ effects may pose on students and teachers under the blended and distance learning programs.

Some universities in Metro Manila, including the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, and Ateneo de Manila University, have earlier announced week-long suspension of classes to allow a recovery period for members of their communities. However, learners from other universities are still appealing for their respective institutions to declare the same, arguing that no student should be left behind.

READ: #AcademicBreakNow: Groups, netizens call for school recovery period after typhoons

Malacañang has left the decision to CHED.

"Ang nakuha kong kasagutan sa CHED, hindi po magkakaroon ng academic holiday. Magkakaroon po ng extension para doon sa mga pamantasan at kolehiyo na hindi nakapagklase dahil sa mga bagyo," Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during his Tuesday briefing.

[Translation: The answer I got from CHED is there will be no academic holiday. Instead, there will be an extension of the academic year for colleges and universities that were unable to hold classes during and after the typhoons.]

De Vera, meanwhile, said he would be meeting with university presidents this week to learn more about the situations on the ground.

Bahala silang mag-assess (it would be up to them to assess), and then from there we go on and discuss this matter based on the assessment of universities,” he added.

The CHED official also said schools facing long class suspensions can opt to adjust their academic calendar, so that learning outcomes would not be compromised.

Schools and universities in the country have earlier switched to online and blended learning programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.