Group urges gov’t to suspend online classes in ECQ areas, calls for ‘genuine’ academic ease

Recognizing the challenges faced by students, their parents and teachers amid the pandemic, a group on Monday, March 29, called for the suspension of online classes in enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) areas and reiterated the need for “genuine” academic ease this school year.

Following the one-week revert of the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal to ECQ due to unprecedented surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the past weeks, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) is calling for the suspension of online classes in areas under ECQ from March 29 to 31.

“Many families will lose incomes with the work stoppage in ‘non-essential’ industries,” said ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio. “Sans significant financial aid and internet support to learners, buying internet data load for online classes is too heavy a burden for poor families,” he added.

Basilio furthered that many poor learners who are largely supported by day-to-day incomes rely on “piso-net” and “piso-wifi” offers in communities for online learning.

Given this, he noted the inequity in the government’s distance learning program become more pronounced in such situations where the crises exacerbate, worst-hitting the poor. “How can the government expect learners and teachers to act as if everything is fine?” Basilio asked.

Basilio also argued that while education continuity amidst the pandemic remains a priority but “with the continuous government neglect and poor response to the crises, the people are forced to first ensure their own survival which means prioritizing food and basic necessities over distance learning expenses.”

ACT also called for the implementation of “genuine” academic ease, which - Basilio said - should mainly relieve learners and teachers of “burdensome” distance learning expenses and unreasonable workload and study load.

“Hindi na alam ni teacher ang uunahin sa dami ng reports, webinars, checkables, pag-compute ng grades, at paghahabol sa mga estudyanteng naiiwan. Pagod na pagod na ang mga guro na sinabayan pa ng paulit-ulit na na lockdown at kawalan ng ayuda (The teacher no longer knows what to prioritize in the number of reports, webinars, checkables, computing grades, and chasing the students who are left behind. The teachers are very tired, accompanied by repeated lockdowns and lack of help),” Basilio lamented.

Likewise, ACT also criticized further the continuing “militarist lockdown approach” of the government to the pandemic.