The outbreak of the pandemic Covid19 is likened to a strong surge of water that gushed to the shore – strong, impactful, and dreaded. The difference is that the powerful waves are visible to the naked eye, as they approach the shore. Meanwhile, Covid19 is invisible, yet it possesses dominion over anyone and everyone, and its indelible impact shall remain in the history of mankind.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) of learning like the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College were not spared from this difficult crisis. On March 15, 2020, the Office of the Governor of Mountain Province issued an order on the suspension of classes in all levels until March 28, 2020. A series of orders and memoranda from oversight agencies of HEIs like CHED and Civil Service Commission subsequently issued related orders on the provision of alternative modes of instruction and delivery of work among students, faculty members and the non-teaching staff.
In MPSPC, the past week was a whirlwind. Many lessons were learned. The bottomline of the rapid unfolding of events is the institution’s conveyance of responsiveness while demonstrating cognizance of its responsibilities as an academic institution. In other words, while the College heeds to the call for the observance of precautionary measures to combat the feared virus, the Administration consistently exercised critical reflections on every single move that it decided to adopt. As an academe, MPSPC embraces that level of consciousness that situates the welfare of its students and employees as prime and essential.
For instance, critical responsiveness towards the suspension of classes was exuded through the delivery of alternative modes of learning. The College’s relentless effort in providing education in the midst of crisis cannot be compromised. In the midst of class suspension, the College devised a mechanism to sustain the delivery of instruction in the midst of the crisis. An order on class suspension in the college level has different and critical implications. As President Chakas argued during Monday’s emergency meeting, a 10-day or a month of class suspension makes a difference in college students’ education. However, any alternative mode of learning should consider current learning theories that support inclusive and equitable education. If any student does not have access to the internet, an online forum is not valid and should not be utilized. As such, faculty members were strongly discouraged to adopt online learning because of many students’ inability to access good internet speed. Instead, they were told to provide crash modules for their students. Furthermore, the faculty members were also advised to take this period of crisis to work from home on their other essential functions but not also compromising their quality time with the family.
The College’s manifestation of responsiveness was coupled with responsibility towards its students and employees, and to the society in general. For two days last week, the Administration provided college vehicles to ferry students and employees to their respective hometowns. The institution’s frontliners led by the VP for Administration and the Chief of the Presidential Management Staff constantly communicated with the various LGUs in Mountain Province to send additional vehicles to ferry stranded students. Additionally, the College strongly supported the “Work From Home” scheme and the “Stay At Home” regulation to ensure social distancing and protect its employees who are also vulnerable to the virus just like anyone else. The interventions emerged from the institution’s mandate on sustaining a welfare program for its employees not only during ordinary times but also during crisis. The welfare of faculty members and non-teaching staff under a job order status was also seriously considered. As such, they shall also be compensated under the Work From Home scheme.
The Covid19 outbreak came in the midst of a time in MPSPC when work is extraordinarily overflowing because of its compliance to various requirements by oversight agencies. Perhaps, this outbreak could have also found its rightful position in everyone’s work agenda, that is, a time to reflect and ponder deeply upon one’s life. It comes as a reminder that work and money could be found, but life is a one-shot opportunity that when it fails, it is irrevocable. The MPSPC academic community wishes that everyone is safe and well!