Students urge termination of current semester, suspension of online classes

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
Students urge termination of current semester, suspension of online classes
Clockwise from upper left: De La Salle University, University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, and Ateneo de Manila University.
Philstar.com / File, Jeffrey U. Pioquinto, UST website

MANILA, Philippines — An organization of university student councils on Friday called for the immediate termination of the current academic semester amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines, rather than extending the semester or continuing it through online classes.

The National Union of Students of the Philippines said that ending the semester is the most inclusive option for college students compared to other alternatives proposed or already being implemented in higher education institutions during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine in effect until April 30.

It also called for the “mass promotion” of students, including the clearance of eligible students to graduate, as well as the refunding of unused school fees to ease the financial burden of affected families.

“Quality education is in everyone’s interests. Our call to end the semester and to promote students en masse does not need to set this aside. We enjoin schools to offer audit classes and modules once the crisis has been surmounted, and it also follows that phasing ang curricula will need to be adjusted accordingly,” the NUSP said in a Friday statement.

“The crisis makes no exemptions. Students stand on the same side as everyone on the receiving end of financial, psychological, and emotional stress brought about by the pandemic. To add academic stress to the pile would only make for a burden even more difficult to bear.”

Under the Commission on Higher Education's COVID-19 Advisory 3, tertiary education institutions must "deploy available distance learning, e-learning, and other alternative modes of delivery in lieu of residential learning if they have the resources to do so"

Citing the experiences of affected universities in Luzon, however, the NUSP echoed concerns that online classes are not accessible for students without stable or any internet connection at home.

“Online learning, meanwhile, does not guarantee quality education and excludes those without stable internet access and devices...online classes disregard the varying resources among students,” their statement read.

It also said that an academic term extension is not feasible for schools with a trimestral rather than semestral schedule.

“On the other hand, extending the semester entails uncertainty, especially since the peak of the crisis remains unpredictable, though a study by the University of the Philippines COVID-19 pandemic response team pegged it to happen between April and June.”

RELATED: COVID-19 strategy: Here's how Philippines can combat the pandemic, according to a data scientist

What universities are doing

Higher education institutions have taken different approaches to the disruption of classes due to the flexibility of CHED’s guidelines, allowing them to “implement extraordinary and swift measures to address the needs of students, employees, and other stakeholders arising from COVID-related issues.”

State universities and colleges are required to discuss any proposed measures with their respective Board of Regents and informing the concerned CHED regional office in the event.

Private universities and colleges, on the other hands, "do not need to obtain prior approval from the Commission," provided that they inform CHED in writing and coordinate with the concerned regional offices.

Ateneo de Manila University, for example, announced in a memo that qualified graduating students are cleared for graduation while eligible non-graduating students will receive passing grades and will be promoted to the next school year automatically.

RELATED: Ateneo praised for decision to pass students and give tuition fee refunds

The University of Santo Tomas went the opposite route, continuing online classes after the quarantine extension until the end of the month was announced.

“While the University recognizes the limitations that come with teaching and learning remotely, including unstable internet access and inability to adequately teach manual skills online, the health and welfare of everyone are of primary concern,” read a UST advisory posted Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines has not yet reached a decision. Chancellors of all UP units are set to meet on Monday before final approval is granted by the university's Board of Regents.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 27, 2021 - 8:09pm

Photo shows members of the Philippine National Police deployed in Manila amid COVID-19 threat. The STAR/Edd Gumban

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 16, 2020 declares an enhanced community quarantine over all of mainland Luzon, an expansion of an earlier general community quarantine over the National Capital Region.

The entire National Capital Region—16 cities and a municipality—is under community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, which means the enforcement of social distancing measures like letting fewer people on public transportation, reduced store hours, and the possibiity of curfews.

According to a memorandum issued by the Palace on Saturday, March 14, the quarantine means that "movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points."

Travel restrictions in and out of the capital will also be implemented.

March 27, 2021 - 8:09pm

A labor group says another lockdown will never resolve rising COVID-19 cases in the Philippines after the government announced that Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal are placed under the enhanced community quarantine starting Monday.

“The Duterte government seems to be deliberate in focusing its efforts in imposing quarantine and lockdown measures instead of addressing the rising cases of COVID-19 and the worsening state of the pandemic through medical solutions and scientific approach,” says Defend Jobs Philippines.



March 27, 2021 - 7:06pm

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the implementation of enhanced community quarantine is meant to slow down the increase of COVID-19 cases, so hospitals and health workers will not be overwhelmed.

March 27, 2021 - 6:37pm

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announces that Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal are placed under enhanced community quarantine starting Monday, March 29.

January 19, 2021 - 6:04pm

Tuguegarao City will be placed under enhanced community quarantine from January 20 to 29 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the city.

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba approved the request of Tuguegarao Mayor Jefferson Soriano to place the city under ECQ for 10 days.

According to the Cagayan Provincial Information Office, the city currently has 246 active cases.


Posted by Cagayan Provincial Information Office on Tuesday, 19 January 2021
April 29, 2020 - 7:51pm

Batangas, one of the provinces hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, has reported no new cases of the disease for two consecutive days.

The provincial DOH Office says the number of COVID-19 cases in the province stood at 91 with no new cases as of Wednesday afternoon.

Lipa City has the most cases with 26, followed by Batangas City (21) and Nasugbu (11).

Tanauan City has the fourth most cases with eight, followed by Bauan (5) and Alitagtag (3). Cuenca and Sto. Tomas City had two cases each, while the municipalities of Calaca, Lemery, Lian, Lobo, Mabini, Mataas na Kahoy, Padre Garcia, San Jose, San Juan, San Pascual and Taal had one case each, respectively. — The Filipino Connection

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