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UST better in 2nd MM Shake Drill

University and government officials noted that the evacuation flow of the University of Santo Tomas improved during the second Metro Manila Shake Drill.

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University and government officials noted that the evacuation flow of the University of Santo Tomas improved during the second Metro Manila Shake Drill on Monday.

The University, which is located near the 100-km West Valley Fault, took part in the government-initiated Metro Manila Shake Drill in preparation for the much-feared 7.2-magnitude quake, or the “Big One.”

“We (the Incident Command) gathered the time lapse (from building to evacuation area) […] and because there were few students, some finished evacuating in 4 minutes, [others in] 3 minutes, [and] some 5 minutes…depending really on their distance from the evacuation center” Deputy Incident Commander Evelyn Songco, PhD. said.

Songco assured that there is enough space in the University which could be used as evacuation areas for the approximately 40,000 students and University personnel.

In addition to dividing the field into quadrants to mark the positions in the field easier, there were more “planned victims” and the makeshift field hospital also had a hazmat simulation in case there would be chemical spills in the area. There were also no accidental casualties during the drill.

Songco added that the University also has a business contingency plan in the works and hoped that it would be finished by July this year.

“[W]hen the real thing happens then there will be a disruption of classes, […] we have to have a continuity plan so that you will be able to have your learning processes going on despite the fact that there is difficulty in terms of coming to the University.” Songco said.

UST-Red Cross Youth Council outgoing President Demetrio Roman dela Cruz mentioned that while the Incident Command System improved and made the flow of the evacuation smoother, the RCYC members had a hard time coordinating due to lack of hand-held radios or walkie-talkies.

“We’re trying to convince the Office of Student Affairs and Crisis Management ng UST to provide us radio[s], legit ones na pwede namin ipahiram sa local units namin,“ dela Cruz said.

Songco affirmed this and also said that adding more radios for the rescue and medical team should also be considered in the next drill.

Dela Cruz added that there were still students who did not take the drill seriously, and that they had to “instill fear” so that they would take the simulation seriously.

“Sa evacuation kasi, everything is being assessed: the time of evacuation, the time of building evacuation and route to the field, so maraming mine-measure and ayaw namin na maging part sila sa technicalities na mine-measure. You need to show some fear para they’ll take it seriously.”

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CSC pushes for online class suspension amid UST guidelines

The Central Board recommended the use of online modules like “handouts, video tutorials, and pre-recorded lectures” which the students can use during the break.

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Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

Eight days after Metro Manila was put under a “community quarantine,” the UST Central Student Council (CSC) Central Board pushed for the suspension of online classes until April 14, 2020 amid the University’s alternative teaching-learning guidelines.  

To make most of the month-long class suspension due to the community quarantine which was later heightened by the government, online classes were introduced to carry on with the semester.

CSC President Robert Dominic Gonzales, however, stressed the differences in the resources of the students to support their online classes.

Students continue to face challenges in complying to these online activities due to factors like internet stability and lack of gadgets like computers and laptops.

A survey was conducted among local colleges to monitor the concerns and statuses of the Thomasian community.

For instance, in the College of Commerce and Business Administration and College of Tourism and Hospitality Management, more than half of the students of each college have no stable internet connection.

The Board recommended the use of online modules like “handouts, video tutorials, and pre-recorded lectures” which the students can use during the break.

Focusing on other matters

In light of the pandemic, Gonzales emphasized the need for the psychological and mental health of the community to be focused on, which is not only limited to the students.

The well-being of the faculty members, non-academic personnel, and the administration is a matter of priority as well in this time of crisis.

Gonzales is with high hopes to the administration’s approval of CSC’s appeal.

“I am sure that the administration listens to our concerns, most especially during these crucial times,” Gonzales said.

He also expressed his gratitude to the backbone of the University amid this health-related crisis.

“[W]e also give utmost gratitude and salute to them for all the efforts that they have exhausted to ensure a holistic approach on the well-being of the Thomasian community,” he added.

When asked if it is most likely to extend the second semester if the administration approves the appeal, Gonzales said that: “The decisions regarding the academic calendar and special terms are to be determined by the administration.”

However, the Board alongside local colleges are “much willing to provide help and support” the endeavors of the University by seeking suggestions from the student body.

 

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UST shifts to self-paced instruction amid quarantine period

The University’s updated Collective Institutional Guidelines on COVID-19 notes that the current state of calamity and quarantine regulations limit the capacity of students and faculty members to participate in regularly scheduled online classes.

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Jacqueline Martinez/TomasinoWeb

[UPDATED] The University will now implement a self-paced instruction amid the quarantine period in Luzon

In the University’s updated Collective Institutional Guidelines on COVID-19 released on March 20, “[r]egularly scheduled daily online classes shall no longer be required” for both students and faculty members.

The updated guidelines notes that the current state of calamity and quarantine regulations limit the capacity of students and faculty members to participate in regularly scheduled online classes.

Faculty members shall still continue providing learning materials which includes video lectures, readings and discussion sessions for students’ self-paced instruction in preparation for formal instruction once classes resume.

Academic unit heads will also determine which examinations or alternative assessments will be held online, or will require in-campus conduct once classes resume.

ADVISORYIn view of the enhanced community quarantine, we advise all Thomasians to heed the government’s mandate to…

University of Santo Tomasさんの投稿 2020年3月20日金曜日

Preliminary and final examinations may still be be integrated depending on the academic units “provided that there were enough student assessments aside from final examinations.” Students must also be informed of the changes in the grading system of affected courses.

The Office of the Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation also suspended all in-campus and off-campus research data gathering, as well as research-related local and international travels. Researchers were advised to do alternative activities.

Meanwhile, the schedule of moving-up ceremonies and commencement exercises will be determined once classes resume and academic calendar has been finalized.

Last March 13, the Office of the Secretary-General suspended the online classes from March 13-14 to give way for personal and family concerns.

Online classes from March 17 to 21 were also cancelled to “allow faculty members and students to attend to personal and family concerns,” “give faculty members time to revisit their course plans,” and “allow students to attend to pending tasks and submissions that were given in the past week.”

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the National Capital Region on a community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, with regular class suspensions in the region extended until April 14.

The code alert system for COVID-19 was raised to code red alert sub-level 2 which indicates evidence of community transmission.

All land, domestic air, and domestic water transportation to and from Metro Manila were barred, and only workers coming from nearby provinces were allowed to enter Metro Manila. Mass gatherings were also prohibited.

As of March 20, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country is now at 230, with 18 fatalities.

On support staff, faculty evaluation, and admission process

Work for all staff shall “remain suspended until further notice” including skeletal workforce arrangement. Only selected on-site workers were allowed to perform work, according to the University’s Human Resource Department memorandum. 

Social distancing should also be observed during the work and all staff are “enjoined to observe work from home arrangement […] to maintain productivity.”

University admission activities for A.Y. 2020-2021 (reservation, confirmation, and enrollment) shall be scheduled once the classes resume. 

Academic units shall also coordinate with the Office of Admissions “to release the appropriate announcements to their respective applicants”.

Meanwhile, the faculty competence evaluation for the second semester will be scheduled once classes resume. It was encouraged “to provide qualitative comments” in the faculty evaluation to highlight their strengths, and help them [address] areas of improvement amid the regular class disruptions. A. Basa with report from J. A. Pangilinan

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CSC president clarifies University hair policies

Robert Dominic Gonzales, the incumbent CSC president, noted the vagueness of the provision in the student guidelines, hence the decision of the administration to clarify the said rule.

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Veronica Besario/TomasinoWeb

After garnering varied reactions from students, the University’s Central Student Council (CSC) president explained the clarification of guidelines regarding hair color and hair cut.

Robert Dominic Gonzales, the incumbent CSC president, noted the vagueness of the provision in the student guidelines, hence the decision of the administration to clarify the said rule.

“Nakalagay lang kasi dito ‘students’ hairstyle should be clean, combed and neatly trimmed or fixed. Unconventional hair colors are not permitted,’” Gonzales said quoting from the student’s handbook.

It was the clamor from the students and college deans alike that they sought to draw the line between conventional and unconventional hair colors.

“Basically, there were a lot of clamors from the past few years regarding sa portion dito about unconventional hair colors. So this year they sought to clarify the matters kung ano ba talaga ang tinutukoy na unconventional,” Gonzales expressed.

He reiterated: “When this handbook was released, they did not post any color palette or color shades of those unconventional hair colors.”

He also emphasized that the decision came from the college deans themselves, elaborating: “Majority if I’m not mistaken of the deans voted for the conventional hair colors which was released recently. Yung mga darkest black to darkest brown.”

When asked whether he’s for or against the said policy, Gonzales stated that such rule has no relationship with the students’s academic standing.

“With regards naman if we’re pro or against it, of course, personally speaking, it’s about personally expressing yourself ganoon I’m against the hair policy,” he said.
He further added, “For me, it has no direct relationship whatsoever with the academic performance ng tao.”

Students’ reactions

Meanwhile, this implementation of policy gained varied responses and backlash among the students of the University.

For a student from College of Science, it has been a matter of students subjecting themselves in following institutional guidelines upon enrolling to the university.

“Kasi like kahit ako, I want to color my hair din pero kasi at the same time sinabi ko na sa sarili ko na UST ‘to alam kong medyo hindi nila bet ‘yun, so kumbaga I mentally prepared myself for it like ‘di na ako nag-expect masyado from them,” the student stated.

However, Arts and Letters student Gwen Forones questioned the implementation of the policy, saying “[I don’t know] what are they trying to prove in implementing similar cases just like this when in fact hair color does not hinder academic standing and competence.”

She further added: “[H]indi ba sa panahon ngayon, it is more reliable to pay attention on building students’ drive and character rather than nitpicking their appearances.”

Forones also took a swipe on the conflicted priorities of the system, saying “[O]ur education system seems to be persistent in promoting personal growth.”
She elaborated, “and yet they keep on implementing a policy which restrains the students’ rights to express themselves without causing any harm.”

On a circular dated Feb. 19, the Office of the Secretary-General released a clarificatory announcement regarding acceptable hair style and colors to its students.

According to the guideline addressed to the University administrators, students must be limited to the prescribed spectrum of colors from Level 1 (darkest black) to Level 5 (dark brown).

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