Students’ group calls for gradual, safe resumption of classes

Published April 6, 2021, 9:55 AM

by Gabriela Baron

A students’ group is calling for the gradual and safe resumption of face-to-face classes in low-risk areas.

Maintenance workers wearing protective masks and face shields sanitize the Rosauro Almario Elementary School in Manila City (Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg)

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) submitted a position paper to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Monday, April 5, pushing for the gradual and safe resumption of physical classes.

NUSP maintained that distance learning “is not a sustainable modality of learning in the long-run” and resuming face-to-face classes, especially in low risk areas, “will be of great help to students.”

“A year has passed already since the school closures in the country, but students, teachers, and parents are still struggling to meet the demand of distance learning,” the letter read.

The group also suggested prerequisites needed to be fulfilled for the safe reopening of classes in low-risk areas including free and safe mass vaccination to teachers, students, and staff; implementing regular and free mass testing; ensuring the implementation of minimum health requirements in schools and universities; conducting prior risk assessment in areas where there is limited face-to-face classes; employing health and sanitation personnel in schools; providing enough funds for additional classrooms and sanitation rooms.

In high risk areas where resuming face-to-face classes cannot be done, NUSP said “inclusive learning” should be ensured through providing free gadgets and stable internet connectivity to students and teachers.

“Along with this is the emphasis on quality and genuine learning instead of imposing heavy academic requirements and grading systems. Related to this is promoting and implementing academic ease and leniency in all universities and colleges,” the letter further read.

“Financial support to students, teachers, and staff, as well as ensuring the implementation of free education in public schools are crucial steps to the accessibility of education. In private schools, tuition and other fee hikes should be scrapped. Collection of unused fees in distance learning should be halted as well,” the group added.

NUSP likewise called for the augmentation of the budget for strictly ensuring that educational institutions conducting limited face-to-face classes in health allied courses in the Greater Manila Area and other regions are complying to minimum health standards.

On March 6, CHED allowed 24 colleges and universities across the Philippines to implement limited face-to-face classes beginning the second semester of the academic year 2020-2021.

CHED said selected allied health-related courses such as medicine, nursing, medical technology, medical laboratory science, physical therapy, midwifery, and public health were prioritized “to enable students to achieve key learning outcome on specialized laboratory courses and hospital-based clinical clerkship/internship/practicum and to provide additional manpower to the country’s health system.”

READ MORE: #LigtasNaBalikEskwela trends as students seek for academic ease