Academic woes: Stories of teachers keeping up with online classes while caring for COVID-19 patients at home

April 12, 2021 - 5:50 PM
An elementary teacher records her voice, reading a story book as the education department copes with distance learning amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Navotas, Metro Manila, Philippines, September 16, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Stories of teachers and students who are struggling to continue distance learning as they also need to care for COVID-19 infected family members at home present another terrible picture of the worsening pandemic situation in the country.

In a tweet, content creator Aliana Villarosa popularly known as “Yanihatesu” shared that some of her professors apologized to them for their late updates in class due to COVID-19-related concerns.

“Pati professors ngayon ang lala ng struggle huhu. Minsan talaga nakakapanghina nalang pag nagso-sorry sila na di sila nakakapag-update dahil may health crisis din sa family nila or sila mismo. Tama na talaga tong sem na to,” she posted on April 12.

Another Twitter user also shared her encounter with a professor who turned emotional after turning on her web camera during an online class after learning that the professor’s family member tested positive for COVID-19.

In the tweet, the user shared the hashtag #DoBetterUP, an online call asking the University of the Philippines to suspend classes amid the COVID-19 case surge and repeated lockdowns.

“#DoBetterUP! The lockdown is taking a toll on our teachers. In the middle of our class, my prof got a call from a loved one, who told her about her sister testing positive for COVID. She turned her webcam on while wiping away her tears with her fingers,” the user wrote.

A student named Julie Valdez with the Twitter handle @julieuuuu likewise recounted that her professor had to use a computer shop to hold online classes via Zoom.

“Ang sad na kailangan bumulong ng prof ko in our zoom class today kase na sa comp shop siya para lang makaattend ng klase kase nawalan net sakanila,” Valdez said.

“He isn’t that tech-savvy as well kaya we could really see him struggling. UP please hear your constituents. Lahat kami nahihirapan na,” she added.

In the same thread, she called on UP to “empathize with their needs and struggles” and requested “academic ease.”

“#AcademicEaseNOW not everyone has the luxury and privilege na mag loa/awol because teachers have families to feed and students are under pressure to finish school para makapagtrabaho at makatulong din sa kanilang mga pamilya,” she said.

Writer and instructor Richard Bolisay likewise echoed the views of the students and mentioned the need for academic pause amid the worsening pandemic situation in the country.

“I’m a teacher, and it fills me with so much grief to still be conducting classes in the midst of rising COVID cases. It’s horrible that we are forced to continue teaching, and our students are asked to submit requirements. This is a massively rotten and inhumane education system,” Bolisay said.

Student councils and some concerned Filipinos previously called for an academic break following the extension of the enhanced community quarantine in the NCR Plus Bubble (National Capital Region, Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon and Laguna).

These include student governmental bodies of the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Adamson University of the Philippines.

The hashtags #AcademicBreakNow and #AcadEaseNow were used in these social media calls.

Advocacy group Mental Health Philippines also joined this online initiative, citing the impact of pandemic burnout and anxiety.

“Pandemic burnout and pandemic anxiety are real – both affect students and teachers. #AcademicBreakNow,” it said.

Since last March, there were also tragic stories shared online about COVID-19 patients who died without receiving proper treatment after most hospitals in Metro Manila run out of bed capacities.