Students have started taking their school requirements at home after classes were suspended, but this arrangement has been extended after the General and Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) were declared, and may even lengthen more if the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) health crisis does not improve.

With this, educators are facing challenges on how to continue their discussions and activities considering the unstable – sometimes unavailable – internet connectivity among them and the students, as well as the suspension of online classes.

Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella cancelled all classes in all levels for both public and private schools last March 16 to 28, 2020 but afterwards placed Cebu City under a state of General Community Quarantine on March 16, 2020 until April 14, 2020.

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III issued a directive for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to be lenient with school requirements that use online or distance learning after receiving complaints from students who have difficulty accessing the internet.  

Cebu Normal University (CNU) Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) then issued Memorandum Order No. 23, s. 2020, Online Delivery of Classes in Response to COVID-19 and Memorandum Order No. 24, s. 2020, Enhanced Guidelines on Distance/ Online/ Off Class Learning in Response to COVID-19 in compliance to CHED’s directives.

Faculty members were requested to provide assignments that will not require students to go to internet cafés. Teachers were also advised to provide students a grace period of two weeks to one month after classes resume to comply with the activities.

“The signal in our home town is not steady, and sadly we’re not financially stable due to the lockdown. Sustaining load for internet connection could be a burden to my parents,” Ritchelle Lariosa, BA Communication 1 student said in an interview with Ang Suga Publication.

Jomar Sunpayco, a Grade 10 student and ILS Supreme Student Government (SSG) President, said that more than the issue related to the internet connection, it is the mass amount of tasks given by the teachers that are challenging. He said that classes held inside the classroom are still better compared to the home arrangement where tasks and assignments are piled up at the same time. 

“Teaching online is quite challenging than teaching face-to-face,” Jem Cloyd Tanucan, a Integrated Laboratory School (ILS) faculty agreed.

Tanucan said that not all teachers are technologically savvy and not all students have stable internet connection. He said that with these limitations, teachers are called to be understanding rather than imposing.

CNU VPAA then issued Memorandum Order No. 25, s. 2020, Suspension of Online Classes to officially declare that online classes are to be stopped.

Mary Grace Villafor, a faculty from the Biology Department said that her classes will resume after the class suspension. She said that she has not experienced struggles by following the memorandum order that has been released. 

“I sincerely appreciate the compliance of our teachers on the suspension of online classes because in that way, I can directly perceive that they understand our different situations and struggles in complying with the activities/tasks given to us,” Janalyn Nuñez, a Diploma in Professional Education (DPE) student said.  

“Most students are undergoing adjustments in recent events. Some are dealing with stress and anxiety over the uncertainty of things. Some have families that have been heavily impacted by the COVID outbreak where their livelihood and day-to-day subsistence are a problem,” Dr. Eva Marie Gacasan, Chair from the Psychology Department said. 

Gacasan said that she is giving her students time to adjust and cope with the crisis because their well-being is important. She encourages students to feel a sense of control over things by spending their energy in studying the materials that are given to them.

Labella later issued Executive Order No. 064 placing Cebu City under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) effective March 28, 2020 until April 28, 2020 thereby extending the class suspension.

The ECQ may be shortened if revoked by Labella but will depend on the number of COVID-19 positive cases within the city. The public is still advised to stay at their homes with the implementation of ECQ. (JDF)