By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
The University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) will be moving to online instruction starting Monday, March 16, to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“Work and classes in UP Diliman should continue, despite COVID-19 (coronavirus disease). We just have to shift to a different mode–one that is resilient and agile. Heads of units are requested to work out the details of these arrangements at the level of their offices and disciplines,” UPD Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo said.
“We have asked our faculty to adjust their syllabi and requirements, and shift to online teaching,” he added.
He also encouraged students to explore alternative modes of learning with their instructors.
Online library services, as well as student support services, will continue, Nemenzo assured.
“Our university food service is providing meals to students who are staying in the dorms and our offices will remain operational with a minimal workforce,” he added.
Nemenzo also reiterated that official travel and public events also remain suspended until further notice.
“These are drastic but necessary measures that universities in other countries, such as Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, the US and Italy, have taken to protect the health of their communities,” he said .
UPD has so far reported three members of its community as persons under investigation for COVID-19.
“We have to remain calm, alert and vigilant as the epidemic moves fast through our communities. UP Diliman must do its part in containing the spread of the epidemic,” Nemenzo said. “These containment measures, however, need not paralyze us as an institution.”
“There is another important reason for the measures we have taken, apart from ensuring our collective health. In delaying the spread of disease, this containment period will allow UP Diliman to prepare its units to better respond to COVID-19,” he said.
“It is a time for assessing and building our capacities, and planning for long-term preparedness. Here, we are ensuring that our health service and workforce and other services are equipped and supported to be able to effectively and sustainably do their work,” he added.
Nemenzo also encouraged setting up mechanisms that will engage everyone in shaping community-based and community-led responses, by involving barangays within and around UP Diliman, contractual workers, Ikot jeepney drivers, ambulant vendors, and informal settlers, “who are more vulnerable.”
“In any public health crisis, the burden of risk falls more heavily on the vulnerable and the marginalized. The university must also respond to COVID-19 with a view to addressing the inequities that have been deepened by the pandemic,” he said.
With the “community quarantine” imposed in Metro Manila, Nemenzo is hoping that restrictions “will not unduly undermine academic freedom, individual liberties and community life.”
He said the campus is still open to joggers, bikers and those who wish to relax and destress, but reminded them to practice social distancing and other precautionary measures.