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As online classes resume, students once more called for a safe return to physical classes

Classes are back in session, but the question remains: are students ready to go back?

A week into the second semester for A.Y. 2020-2021, following another First Day Rage protest to call once again for a safe return to physical classes, students air out their frustrations over the sins of the past sem.

Fresh from the break, many students still harbored baggage from the first ever complete online semester in UPLB – be it academic workloads or emotional frustrations.

In the Carabao Park mobilization last March 1, College of Development Communication Student Council (CDCSC) slammed the ineffectiveness of the online learning setup inside the college and in the university as a whole.

Sa synthesis ng konseho ng mag-aaral, kitang kita kung gaano kabulok at ‘di effective ang online learning sa ating magaaral at unibersidad. CDC ang natatanging kolehiyong ‘di nagparticipate sa malawakang welga. Napakasahol ng manipestasyon ng output-based education sa aming kolehiyo at sa iba pa,” CDCSC councilor Rich Adriel de Guzman loudly proclaimed.

The League of Filipino Students found the irony of businesses like amusement parks opening up while the university remained closed insulting.

Mga mall, sinehan, at amusement parks ay nagbubukas na ngunit online classes pa rin tayo hanggang ngayon. Ang edukasyon ay karapatan ng estudyante ngunit marami ang napag-iiwanan dahil sa online classes,” LFS said, referring to Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) refusal to let UPLB hold physical sessions. A decision that drew flak from fellow students after this was discussed last week’s town hall session (READ: UPLB go for F2F; CHED, IATF hold campus back).

Meanwhile, the College of Agriculture and Food Science Freshman Council (CAFSFC) emphasized the unpreparedness of the student body for the online setup, citing the previous semester as an example for this point.

Sa muling pagsisimula ng klase sa ating unibersidad ngayong araw, huwag sana nating kalimutan ang isang bagay na ating natutunan noong nakaraang semester: HINDI TAYO HANDA! Maraming estudyante ang hindi handa sa ‘remote learning’ o ‘online classes.’ Nariyan ang kawalan ng kagamitan na angkop para sa online classes, kawalan ng maayos na signal at maya’t maya ng kuryente sa ilang lugar,” said CAFSFC.

Additionally, CAFSC pointed out that as agriculturists, online laboratory classes would not be enough for their learning needs.

Bilang mga mag-aaral sa ilalim ng Kolehiyo ng Agrikultura at Agham Pampagkain, problema rin ang kawalan ng aktuwal na ‘laboratory classes’ na siyang makapagtuturo sa atin sa praktikal at teknikal na kasanayan sa larangan ng agrikultura at agham pampagkainhindi sapat ang mga teorya na naituturo sa atin,” CAFSC said.

College of Veterinary Medicine Student Council (CVMSC) echoed similar sentiments, stressing the importance of face to face classes in their field.

Ang mga allied health science colleges ay naglunsad na ng face[-]to[-]face classes. Ang kurso namin ay nangangailangan ng practical application sa pag-aaral at may mga ga-graduate nang mga doktor ngayong taon,” said CVMSC.

Last sem’s baggage

Fresh from the break, many students still harbored baggage from the first ever complete online semester in UPLB – be it academic workloads or emotional frustrations.

BS Development Communication (DC) student John Mark Ayap said that despite struggling, he managed to complete all of his requirements in the previous semester. However, he noted that this may not be the case for every UP student, adding that he was still uncertain if he could do as well again this semester.

“Even now I am not sure if I am capable of doing just fine now because I still lack proper equipment for online learning, I don’t have a conducive environment as I share my space with my family and I do not have any privacy at all,” said Ayap.

Similarly, BS Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship (ABME) student Anna Marie San Pedro noted a lack of excitement for the upcoming semester. She instead expressed concern for students who were still unprepared for the upcoming semester, highlighting the difficulties faced by students in science courses who had to work on lab exercises in an “alternative” setup.

Ang dami kong namiss na mga lab activities na sana ay mas makakatulong pa sakin lalo na sa course ko pero wala. Tamang tingin na lang sa videos ganoon. Kung may gagawin mang practical, feel ko di parin sapat gawa parang alternative lang yung ginawa namin. Sayang yung experience. Dama kong wala akong natutunan talaga,” San Pedro said.

On the other hand, nervousness and wary excitement awaited BA Communication Arts (CA) student Jael Apostol, who was just returning from his leave of absence (LOA).

Hindi kasi ako sigurado kung mamamaintain ko ba yung enthusiasm na meron ako ngayon kasi medyo nakakaexcite nga naman talaga bumalik,” said Apostol.

Moreover, Apostol expressed hope that the upcoming semester would be better due to having more time to prepare and develop last semester, while also expressing concern that if it does not improve then students would only suffer and existing relationships be further disconnected.

“Because even if we live in the age of the Internet, people are still very much disconnected. Sinasabi ng mga tao na nakakapag-socialize naman pero it’s not the same if it’s not a personal or physical interaction,” said Apostol.

Apostol mentioned that one of the greatest challenges facing students in the online learning setup would be balancing their many responsibilities, not only as students in an academic institution but also as people with families and as student leaders fighting for academic freedom.

“As a student leader, you are there to secure the democratic rights of the students, to make sure that they exercise the right to education in an optimal space. Matagal naman na nating nakita na hindi talaga optimal ang online learning, and because of that hindi matatangal ang campaign to have classes resume physically na, or to at least to set out a program to gradually return to the physical setup,” Apostol said.

Apostol added that one of the biggest challenges that students face in the online setup was the financial disparity caused by the pandemic, which manifested itself in subpar equipment and/or inability to pay for tuition.

On the Student Learning Assistance System (SLAS), Apostol said: “Kung iisipin, napaka band-aid solution na magprovide ng laptop for people, pero sige it’s well appreciated. A laptop is not cheap. So sige, to a degree, thankful for it. But it’s not the solution. The solution is to create a program na makabalik na sa klase.”

Apostol added that the pandemic has only exacerbated the need to call for the end of tuition collection, a call that is only a continuation of a campaign that has been ongoing for years.

“We’re dealing with a pandemic and the economy is in shambles, not everyone can pay. Education is not something that should be accessible only when you pay,” said Apostol.

The town hall meeting prior to the start of classes revealed that IATF continued to restrict the university from conducting physical sessions, despite Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (VCSA) Janette Malata-Silva revealing that the administration has taken measures to ensure a safe return to classes. However, the higher-ups are still working things out with the agencies as of last update. [P]

Photo from UPLB Kilos Na!

1 comment on “As online classes resume, students once more called for a safe return to physical classes

  1. Pingback: The greatest showman: 5 years of disservice, 6 SONAs of lies – UPLB Perspective

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