OVER 200 THOMASIANS WITH COVID:
UST student leaders call for ‘academic ease,’ ‘academic break’ as Delta cases soar

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THE UST Central Student Council (CSC) on Thursday, Sept. 9, urged administrators to implement a University-wide “academic ease” or “academic break,” citing the Delta Covid-19 variant scourge.

In a survey conducted by the CSC from Sept. 4 to 6, 218 out of 10,395 Thomasian student respondents reported that they had caught the virus in the past two weeks.

“Given the situation, it is of utmost importance for the University to champion compassion in these trying times,” CSC President Krizia Bricio told the Varsitarian.

“As an academic institution instilled with compassion, it is vital that we not only consider the academic development of our students but consider their health and well-being as well,” she added.

In a letter to UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Prof. Cheryl Peralta and Secretary General Fr. Louie Coronel, O.P., the CSC recommended an academic ease, which would put a cap on the number of tests, extend deadlines, and balance the number of synchronous and asynchronous classes.

The CSC also recommended an academic break “for the community to recuperate and continuously adjust amidst these challenging circumstances.”

The council however said leniency should not “mean an additional workload for students during or after the break.”

“We specifically stated that since based on experience, whenever there is an academic ease or academic break, we often experience more workload once classes resume, given that professors have deadlines to meet as well. The students are given twice the original workload which loses the sense of an academic ease,” Bricio said.

Citing a previous meeting with University officials, Bricio said an academic break would jeopardize the schedule of the academic year, given the Commission on Higher Education’s contact hour requirement for private higher education institutions.

“[B]ased on our previous meeting with the admin, further suspending both synchronous and asynchronous will put us all in jeopardy since we won’t be able to meet this requirement already,” said Bricio.

“To compromise, we requested that given this mandate and our current situation, at least we show compassion to everyone – students, faculty members, and other staff – by lessening the workload and [implementing] leniency on our requirements,” she added.

CSC survey

Results of the council’s health and well-being survey showed that 78.3 percent or 8,139 students rated their current mental health at 1 to 3 on a 5-point scale, where 5 was excellent.

A total of 61.3 percent or 6,372 students said they were experiencing anxiety, while 54.5 percent or 5,665 students reported having problems sleeping.

Poor frustration tolerance (44.4 percent), loneliness (41 percent), feelings of depression (29 percent), and eating problems (24 percent) were among the other choices.

In the same survey, 1,037 students revealed that they were living with someone infected with or suspected to have Covid-19.

More than half of the respondents, or 59.3 percent, said they would prefer to have academic ease.

As of Sept. 8, the Philippines has recorded 151,135 active Covid-19 cases. Jacqueline B. Martinez

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