IIT suspends work and classes over COVID-19 threat

by Michelle Jeanne Caracut, OC/OPI

AS A PRECAUTIONARY measure against the coronavirus threat, the Institute suspended classes and work starting today (March 12) until March 29, 2020.

Classes and work halted by 12 noon, and employees and students were directed to go home via a memo issued by the Office of the Chancellor.

Officials of the Institute ordered the suspension in light of the recent confirmed case of coronavirus in Northern Mindanao.

Security is particularly tight around the campus as no one is allowed to enter.

“We want to protect our constituents from the virus. We strictly abide by guidelines from DOH, WHO, and the President,” said Chancellor Sukarno D. Tanggol.

With the 17 ½ -day suspension, the Institute is set to disinfect the entire campus by cleaning offices and classrooms, said Dr. Franco G. Teves, chairperson of the Institute’s COVID-19 Task Force and Biorisk/Biosafety Officer.  

Dr. Teves, who is also the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, told faculty members that they may conduct remote or distance learning. 

Live, attend-in person classes are moved to online lessons, via Google classroom or the MSU-IIT Online Learning Environment (MOLE).

The coronavirus threat has disrupted official travels of faculty members and students who are set to meet with research collaborators or to participate in national and international activities. 

“The university is putting on hold cross-border internationalization,” said Dr. Gaudencio C. Petalcorin, Jr., Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development and International Affairs Director. “Collaboration meetings are done online and we focus more on home-based internationalization.”

MSU-IIT discouraged all international travels and trips to Manila and the National Capital Region by its constituents in another memo released yesterday (March 11).

Memorandum Order No. 2020-00091-OC dated March 9, 2020 set MSU-IIT’s Guidelines for the COVID-19 Outbreak Prevention and Containment.

In it, all Institute constituents who return from trips abroad or from Manila shall be required to enter home quarantine.

“Should a person still opt to travel at his/her own risk, he/she shall be required to be on home quarantine following the Department of Health protocol, for not less than 14 days, before he/she shall be allowed to report back to the campus,” the memo said.

“If the person has already been quarantined for 14 days upon arrival in Manila or any port of entry, an additional of not less than six days of self – quarantine shall be required before he/she is allowed to report back to the campus,” the memo continued. 

“This is because of cases in which the incubation period prior to the manifestations of the infection exceeds 14 days,” the memo explained. 

The COVID-19 threat also caused the cancellation of major campus events and mass gatherings to prevent the risk of transmission by contact. 

Even with the suspension of work and classes, offices were asked to maintain their respective skeletal forces to ensure continuity of services to the public.

Photos by: Jan Christian Pagarigan, OPI