Greetings to all our students, parents, and supporters.
When I addressed you last Thursday, March 12, President Duterte was still to address the nation about the community quarantine of Metro Manila. The University studied Resolution 11 of the Inter-agency Task Force and there are still areas that need further clarification. Several events however, have overtaken us. The suspension of classes given by Governor Remulla of Cavite last week, is now extended to April 14.
The two primary purposes that I mentioned in my previous address still guides the directions we are taking now. First, it is for our students to be spared from the COVID-19 infection. The second is for them to finish their enrolled courses this semester, and most especially, for our dear students scheduled to graduate this semester to be able to do so.
By this time, the students who decided to go home are already home. To those who decided to stay in the campus, many of them want to graduate this coming May or some of them stay to complete their requirements for graduation. The main question is, what is our plan for our students until the end of this semester?
First, let me address the situation of those students who decided to stay. We are implementing a plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the campus. This plan involves our employees, the conduct of university operations, and campus life. The General Strategies to prevent the spread of the virus on campus are the following:
- Campus residents remain inside the campus.
- Limit entrance from off-campus to residents and employees only.
- Limit contact between campus and off campus residents. Large meetings such as church services will not be open to off-campus residents. Contact between persons delivering goods to the campus have to be limited. Vice-versa, the interaction of our personnel with off campus businesses have to be controlled.
- Minimize disruptions to daily life to the extent possible.
- Provide limited access of campus residents to basic services such as banking and purchasing of basic necessities not available on campus
- Protect individuals with increased risk for severe illness, including older adults and persons of any age with underlying health conditions
- Prepared an emergency plan in case that a resident has symptoms of possible infection.
Here are the provisions related to dormitory life:
- ‘Dormitorians’ are advised to practice daily preventive actions in the dorms such as regular disinfection. We will provide supplies so that commonly used surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, keyboards, songbooks, desks) can be wiped down by occupants before each use.
- Occupants must have daily temperature scans, perhaps during the nightly room checks.
- Occupants are not allowed to go out of the campus except for University’s arranged trips to safe destinations. To those who are granted to go out will be under supervision with precautionary measures.
- If an occupant experiences symptoms such as fever, cough, breathlessness, or diarrhea, the case should be reported to the Health Service immediately. At the same time, the names and contact details of all persons who have come into close contact with the occupant when he/she was feeling unwell must be reported also.
Moreover, we are starting the Week of Prayer for the campus residents. We are working and praying that we can prevent the spread of the virus in our campus through the provided provisions.
The next question is, what about those who went back to their homes? Will they be able to finish their courses? Will the seniors be able to finish this semester and graduate? The first concern is, can students who went home finish the courses from there? The answer is, YES. Courses can now be accessed online and students can continue to work from their homes. The challenge we are addressing now is what to do with the practical or skills components of some courses. Your teachers will have the concrete solutions soon and will contact you.
Further, there is a more complicated issue that needs to be addressed. If classes will resume a month from today, should the students who went home return to the campus? Many of you who went home returned to areas affected by COVID-19. Following the protocols, you shall be required to undergo quarantine, which will take for 14 days. We cannot allow you to enter the campus unless you have fulfilled the needed quarantine since we do not have enough facilities for such. More so, if you used public transportation, whether by land, sea or air, you will still need 14 days of quarantine. So unless you have quarantined yourself at home and used private transport going back the University, thus ensured that you have not been in contact with possible carriers, we cannot allow you to enter the campus.
Thus, the best option is for you to finish the courses you have enrolled this semester from your homes though distance learning- the online mode. Hopefully by the start of the intersemester, June, that is, the spread of the virus has been contained. By then, it is my greatest desire that there would be no need to quarantine the students when they return to enroll. Most of you can avail of the option to finish your semester at home since you are in the lower years yet and the courses do not need so much face to face instruction nor skills laboratory.
The question about the exact date to return to the campus is harder to answer for those who are graduating or have course requirements that need the campus facilities. Be aware of the quarantine period needed before you will be allowed to enter the campus. Assuming that classes will resume April 14, be sure to quarantine yourself 14 days before that. Then travel back to the campus in a private vehicle, where you can limit contacts on the way back, avoiding exposing yourself in public places.
Again the main reasons behind these measures are to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection inside our campus and to ensure that the students who have stayed will be able to finish their courses.
Let us continue to observe precautionary measures to protect ourselves, our families, and our school. Some of these measures are difficult but necessary; so we greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we work together to fulfill our common goals.
Questions on March 14, 2020 Addressed of the President: “Suspension and Resumption of Classes”
Question 1: Does the suspension of classes until April 14, 2020 include the Elementary and Academy students?
Answer: Yes, it does. The Elementary and Academy will have no face to face (F2F) class meetings. But “class” activities and meetings will still be done through the internet by the teachers and the pupils, where ever they are.
Question 2: Will there be a graduation this coming May?
Answer: Yes. Even if F2F classes will not resume after April 15, students who meet all the requirements for graduation through the online classes will still graduate. Even the seniors’ theses of the academy and college students may be fulfilled through online mode. On the other hand, if the spread of COVID-19 cannot be contained and the situation worsens so that Cavite and Laguna are placed under community quarantine, then there will be no graduation exercises. Certificates of Graduation (or diplomas) will still be issued to those who passed the courses and completed the requirements of the program. But there will be no public graduation programs such as baccalaureate and commencement exercises.
Question 3: What does “quarantine yourself” mean?
Answer: Self-quarantine is isolating yourself by staying only in your home for at least 14 days. Only people who usually live in the household should be in the home. Do not allow visitors into the home. If you really need to meet others who are not living in your house, meet them outside but keep your distance from them (about 6 feet or 2 meters). Avoid public places. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares. After 14 days of isolation and you have no fever, cough, shortness of breath and LBM, most probably you are free from contamination.
Question 4: Why are we, who went home be required to quarantine before returning to the campus while those who stayed are not?
Answer: Actually, staying on campus is already a quarantine for the students who have stayed. You have heard about the regulations which already are quarantine measures for them. Those staying in the dorms are checked for fever every day. The advantage of those who stayed on campus is that while being quarantined, they have access to the library resources which are not online, can continue their skills requirements, experiments, practicum or OJT, and can personally meet with their teachers for assistance. If a student who stayed show possible symptoms of COVID-19, s/he still be placed in isolation and be closely monitored.
Question 5: Can I return then to the campus any time before April 15?
Answer: You may not. There are not enough quarantine facilities in the campus. So quarantine yourself in your home in the required number of day first and observe precautionary measures in your trip back to the University. Do not use public transport and meet people beside your household members because this will mean you have broken quarantine procedures. If upon returning to the campus, and screening reveals that you have not followed proper quarantine procedures, it may mean that you will be asked to return home.
Question 6: What could be the basis why classes were suspended for a month? Why not just 14 days?
Answer: The month will clearly indicates whether a person or locality is free from COVID-19. A month would be enough for a person to show that he or she has not been affected by the virus. A month of no positive cases in the barangay, municipality, or province would show that COVID-19 has been contained. That is why all members of the community must cooperate so that their locality would be virus-free.