(Photo grabbed from UST Educational Technology Center's official Facebook page)

THE UST Central Student Council has released the results of a poll showing that a significant number of Thomasians did not have good internet connection, following its successful appeal to the administration to make online classes non-compulsory during the coronavirus quarantine.

Out of 25,253 students who answered the online poll, 11,253 or nearly 45 percent said they did not have a stable internet connection. Close to 48 percent of students had a stable connection.

Majority of the respondents have gone to their homes in Metro Manila or the provinces, while 1,738 students were still in their dormitories, the poll found.

UST CSC President Robert Dominic Gonzales wrote a letter last week to Acting Rector Rev. Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Cheryl Peralta and Secretary General Rev. Fr. Jesus Miranda, Jr., O.P., urging the administrators to suspend online classes.

Gonzales, in an earlier interview with the Varsitarian, called for acceptable academic loads to ensure the “psychological and emotional health” of the Thomasian community.

“We believe that suspending online classes including, but not limited to, examinations, submissions of requirements, attendance, etc., is also necessary in the context that not all students have the resources for these,” he said.

Presidents of college student councils also signed the letter.

‘Self-paced instruction’

The University shifted to “self-paced” online instruction in revised guidelines released on March 20.

“Regularly scheduled daily online classes shall no longer be required of both faculty members and students,” the revised guidelines from the Office of the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs stated.

Dennis Ian Sy, a faculty member from the Institute of Religion, said there was flexibility in self-paced instruction but expressed concern over the disposition of students.

“Based on my observation, many students are less motivated to complete their assignments,” he said.

Political science freshman Glenn Vincent Boquilon commended the latest guidelines.

“It effectively addresses the majority concerns of the students such as grade assessment, extension of deadlines and most importantly, recognizing the safety of the Thomasians during these hard times,” he told the Varsitarian in an online interview.

Civil law freshman Cedric Emmanuel Villaran suggested a “recovery period” after the class suspensions for students who didn’t have stable internet connections.

“A week or two shall be scheduled as a ‘recovery period’ for everyone, not just from the pandemic, but especially regarding the academic performance of students particularly those who have limited online access or none at all,” he said.

Although not required by the latest UST guidelines, attendance in some collaborative tasks are still encouraged. Professors may still give graded requirements, but the deadline of submission should be after the resumption of classes.

Students struggle with online classes

Civil law sophomore Katrina Magsino said technology-supported learning activities were inefficient due to the unavailability of online resources and psychological and emotional health concerns.

“One of our professors sent us his personal notes for us to study. I think it’s the most efficient step a professor has taken to mitigate the negative effects of the enhanced community quarantine, especially since some of us do not have access to law books and resources at the moment,” Magsino told the Varsitarian.

Danielle Dalisay, an architecture sophomore, said both students and professors had difficulties in accessing the UST Cloud Campus e-learning system.

“As an architecture student, I also think it’s extra difficult for us to have our classes since most of us rely on face-to-face consultations with our professors to work on our plates effectively,” Dalisay added.

The CSC poll showed that 86.5 percent of the students in the College of Architecture had stable WiFi connection.

Civil engineering freshman Lou Jinelli Bangayan said she had to go back to her dormitory near UST to get a more stable connection for online classes.

Staying alone in her dormitory during the quarantine period was challenging due to the lack of food stocks, she added.

Over 7 percent of respondents in the CSC poll claimed they were staying far from their homes and alone in their dormitories.

Among UST Senior High School students, 67 percent did not have stable internet connection.

Eighty-eight percent reported experiencing certain symptoms. There were, however, no confirmed reports of students positive for Covid-19.

There are now 380 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines, according to the Department of Health.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week ordered a Luzon-wide “enhanced community quarantine” and placed the entire country under a state of calamity.

Classes in all levels in Metro Manila were suspended until April 14. with reports from Marvin John F. Uy and Ahmed Khan Cayongcat

(Thumbnail grabbed from UST Educational Technology Center’s official Facebook page)


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