State universities’ ‘academic break’ amid ongoing crises a welcome move

November 3, 2020 - 4:30 PM
PUP and UP Diliman
A building of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines from its website (left) and the Oblation Statue fronting Quezon Hall of the University of the Philippines-Diliman in this photo from Wikimedia Commons by Ramon Velasquez (right).

At least two state universities implemented an academic break for their students in light of the crises that have been happening in the country.

Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list) supported the move of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP Diliman) in imposing an academic break and a reading break, respectively.

“Kabataan welcomes UP and PUP declaration of academic break esp after ST (Super Typhoon) Rolly’s onslaught,” she wrote on Facebook.

“We hope that this much-needed break be used not only to support those affected by the typhoon, but also to assess and address all concerns on distance learning and well-being of stakeholders. #EducationForAll #HealthForAll #SanaAll,” she added.

The lawmaker also shared her post on Twitter, where it earned 1,500 likes as of this writing.

Elago likewise said that she was “grateful” her mutual followers were also supporting the hashtags “#EducationForAll” and “#HealthForAll” for the sake of the students.

PUP on Monday announced that it will allow its students and faculty members to take an “academic break” to “recover from the impact of Typhoon Rolly” from November 3 to 8, 2020.

The break includes the temporary suspension of “all synchronous and asynchronous activities.”

The announcement applies to all year levels in the main campus in Manila and all of its satellite and branch campuses.

Academic activities will resume on November 9, Monday.

Meanwhile, UP Diliman’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs reminded the academic community of its “system-wide mid-semester reading break” from November 2 to 7, 2020.

“For students, this is the time to do advance reading or to simply take a break from grappling with heavy course demands, on the one hand, and a high level of COVID-19-induced anxiety, on the other,” the memo said.

“For faculty members, this break may be a time to further reflect on adjustments to be made in course delivery and assessment, if any, or to rest from close monitoring of learning from students with differential access to Internet connectivity and telecommunication signals,” it added.

Other students welcomed the breaks and hoped that their respective schools would also follow the state universities’ initiatives.

“Academic break, not only for mental health but to give considerations for those students who lost their homes either because of fire or typhoon. A lot of things (are) going on that especially students can’t handle. How (are) we supposed to balance them all?” another Twitter user said.

Recently, a fire broke out in a residential area in Sta. Mesa, Manila on November 2 that affected around 50 houses due to faulty electrical wiring.

A coastal community in Bacoor, Cavite also lost their homes due to a fire that a fisher’s group suspected was motivated by a reclamation project.

“Sana all ‘di ba. ‘Yong ibang schools diyan lakas mag-seminar about mental health this pandemic sa teachers and students nila pero hindi nila nakikita na ang kailangan ng students at teachers ay huminga sa dami ng gawain at sandamakmak na modules,” another Twitter user said in response to reports of the imposed breaks.

“Kainggit naman 🙁 ‘Yung break namin ng Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 nga naubos sa kakagawa ng research at assignments. Buti pa PUP, may pake sa mga estudyante,” another online user said.

Last weekend, tropical cyclone Rolly, considered the world’s strongest this year, battered the southern parts of Luzon and displaced Filipinos amid an ongoing pandemic.

Residents of Catanduanes and Albay were among the most affected by the super typhoon, now a tropical storm.

People living in Regions 2, 3, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Region V were also affected.

It was also the first time in a while that the National Capital Region was placed under Tropical Cyclone Wind Signals No. 3 and 4 by the state weather bureau due to a storm.

Studying in a pandemic

Meanwhile, experts believe that “the stresses of the pandemic could lead to anxiety, depression, or difficulties with learning” among students.

They said that schools needed to focus on the students’ emotional needs in order to help them cope with the situation.

The Department of Health previously warned the parents of potential health problems that students may face amid the distance learning at a time of a pandemic.

“With online classes, there could be increasing feelings of isolation due to lack of face-to-face interaction,” the health agency said in a statement last September.

“Students may experience health concerns related to increased screen time, such as fatigue, headache, lack of motivation, avoidance/procrastination, among others,” DOH added.

“Practice self-care, self-compassion, and self-awareness of their thoughts and feelings,” it further said.