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April 7, 2021

Online Classes Suspended In Some Schools In NCR Plus As Students Seek Academic Ease

Online Classes Suspended In Some Schools In NCR Plus As Students Seek Academic Ease A student from Marikina City attends an online class on Aug. 24, 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Walter Bollozos, The Philippine STAR

Several academic institutions in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) have suspended online classes or reduced activities as students and faculty members request for academic ease due to the rising cases of COVID-19.

The University of Santo Tomas suspended classes and office work until April 11 “in order to allow our stakeholders to focus on their health and family concerns in light of the spike in COVID-19 cases.”

Various student and faculty organizations have been appealing to their respective academic institutions to suspend classes or implement academic ease following the extension of ECQ in the National Capital Region, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan or NCR Plus until April 11. The ECQ was supposed to be implemented from March 29 to April 4 only.

The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) will not conduct live virtual sessions for students this week and will instead implement asynchronous sessions such as recorded video or audio lectures, it announced.

“In assigning asynchronous learning activities, the faculty members are reminded to take into consideration the existing community quarantine restrictions in place as well as the personal circumstances of their individual students, bearing in mind that the health, safety and welfare of students remain to be the primary priority of the university during this health crisis,” PLM president Emmanuel Leyco said in a statement.

No class assignments, quizzes, examinations or projects shall be required of the students during this period, with submission deadlines set at least one week later.

According to PLM, its administrative and support offices will continue to operate on skeleton workforce with alternative work arrangements to minimize points of contact amid surging COVID-19 infections.

The De La Salle University (DLSU), meanwhile, will implement a one-week academic ease until April 12 in undergraduate and graduate levels excluding its College of Law.

Academic easing means reduction of synchronous sessions and new topics, as well as no exams, graded activities or submission deadlines, the DLSU noted.

“For the College of Law, sections for graduating students shall have regular classes during this period. This will allow graduating students time to review for the bar exams,” read the memorandum issued by DLSU vice chancellor for academic Robert Roleda.

“Sections with only non-graduating students shall have a one-week academic break and will have an additional one week of classes,” it added.

Roleda also issued a separate memorandum stating that students who were affected by COVID-19 due to infection in the household or for being put in isolation may secure an excused absence, allowing them to make up for missed requirements during the leave period.

It also covers students who have problems coping mentally due to the COVID-19 situation.

DLSU faculty members who are infected with COVID-19 or are placed in isolation may also avail of a special sick leave for up to 14 days.

The Cavite State University also suspended the conduct of synchronous classes until April 11, saying the scheduled academic break this semester will be used to compensate for the number of lost days.

At the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, vice chancellor for academic affairs Ma. Theresa Payongayong issued a memorandum to the faculty urging for flexibility in light of the current COVID-19 situation.

“To maximize the efforts that have been put in preparing for classes and shifting to remote learning, we remind everyone to continue to practice compassion, respect and mutual care such that students and faculty with special needs in this time of pandemic will be afforded consideration,” read the memorandum.

“Kindly check-in with our students to ask how they are doing and how they are coping with the current health situation. Based on their responses, please make the necessary adjustments related to requirements and deadlines, if possible. We can be more flexible to allow for submissions beyond the deadline without any deductions,” it added.

The office of the UP student regent expressed support to the appeal of various student councils to suspend synchronous and asynchronous classes and activities, deadlines and requirements until April 11.

The student regent of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines also requested for an extension of the academic break until April 18 to give way for the registration and enrollment of students who are not yet enrolled for the current semester.

It cited various concerns encountered by the students, such as incomplete encoded grades in the previous semester and the late delivery of instructional materials.

An online petition was also launched seeking the declaration of academic ease at the Ateneo de Manila University.

At the University of the East, university president Ester Albano-Garcia rejected the call for an academic ease, saying that “the ECQ is not a reason not to have classes considering that these are not face-to-face classes.”

“We are precisely using online learning so that your education will not be disrupted by declarations such as the ECQ,” she added in her response to the request of the student councils of the university.

The Commission on Higher Education earlier said adjustments in the academic calendar, including the declaration of academic ease, are left to the discretion of the officials of tertiary institutions in consultation with their stakeholders.

The Department of Education, which implemented an academic ease last month for elementary and high school students, has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

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