Campus Features


The University of Santo Tomas Senior High School Department and Mapua University recently issued a week off of regular class schedules for an academic midterm break, after receiving requests from students and faculty members.

/ 1 October 2020

It’s been a few months since the academic year started for students all around the Philippines, with the added twist of online classes as majority of the country remains under varying levels of quarantine due to the coronavirus. With students as young as pre-school ages up to university and post-graduate adults clamoring to meet requirements at home, the whole education system is expected to adapt to the New Normal without sacrificing the quality of learning students will receive.

However, just a few months in and students have already taken it to social media to share the greater burden of online classes, as compared to the traditional classroom setting where they don’t have to worry about Internet connectivity, household chores, and other factors brought upon by the drastic change in environment. While students struggle to settle with these unwanted changes, they are also faced with different requirements for each of their classes, individual online lectures, digital meetings with group members, responsibilities at home, and the pressing concern of national issues. It’s only understandable that after a few months of non-stop online and offline work, everyone in the academia (even faculty members) are feeling burnt out and desperate for a break.

This brings to light the recent declaration of Philippine institutions such as the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Senior High School Department and Mapua University to hold academic health breaks in the middle of the term. The announcements, as expected, were widely appreciated by both students and faculty members, with other schools and colleges also calling on their respective institutions to do the same. Even one week off proves to be a valuable break for academic communities as a whole, and this initiative from UST and Mapua are respectable efforts of these major organizations to take care of their own student bodies and staff.

Still, there are some issues brought to light by students who have mixed reactions towards the break. Several complaints were made highlighting the fact that some professors still gave deadlines within the supposed break, ultimately disregarding the allotted time to rest for students. Some also argue that this could just be a response to the scheduled maintenance activities of major Internet providers, which are expected to cause connectivity problems for users around the Metro. Thus, the illusion of a caring and considerate institution is slightly diminished as the motives wouldn’t be as health-focused as it was originally presented to be.

Despite these concerns, it still goes without question that universities and other schools are called to listen to the needs of their immediate communities, especially if it involves their physical and mental well-being. Students and professors are given a whole new layer to their daily school routines, and each one is facing the brunt of rigorous online classes amidst a global health pandemic.

So far, we only have a number of schools that have announced their own academic breaks across the country, but the need for it far exceeds the actual turn-out. From primary schools to tertiary institutions, it’s an absolute necessity for its leaders to prioritize their community’s overall health, and any new practices focused on its protection would undoubtedly be appreciated and welcomed by the general public.

Perhaps traditional educational practices such as mounds of required homework, group requirements, and the like, would be better off temporarily abolished in consideration of students’ varying circumstances, or lack of resources. In fact, academic institutions should welcome discussions with experts, teachers, parents, and the students themselves to fully understand the situation and the needs of the whole school. Open discussions such as this, and genuine considerations from its decision-makers, might just be the only way the academic sector can push forward amidst the pandemic, without foregoing its community’s general well-being.