NEWS FEATURE | #NoToF2F: DSC calls to suspend face-to-face classes

Graphics by Vince Julius Balaga

he University of the Philippines Dentistry Student Council (UP DSC) called on both the UP College of Dentistry (UPCD) & UP Manila administration to suspend face-to-face (F2F) classes of dentistry students in the first semester of the academic year 2020–2021. The said protest was due to the lack of updates regarding the exemption of students from remote learning.

The Root Cause

On August 20, the UPCD Executive Committee, together with UPM Chancellor Carmencita Padilla, students, faculty, and parents, held its town hall meeting. The assembly discussed the administration’s plans on the continuation of classes in the college for the upcoming semester, embracing the new normal.

UPM Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development Michael Tee mentioned that engineering plans for UPCD will be finished in two months. He also guaranteed that the infrastructures will be ready for the opening of classes on September 10.

To safely conduct F2F classes, those involved should be provided with proper personal protective equipment (PPE), free periodic swab testing, accommodations, and transportation. The UPCD administration, however, firmly refused to comply with such terms. Likewise, they also waived themselves of any accountability to their stakeholders who will be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

The aforementioned conditions paved way to UP DSC’s clamor for the administration’s accountability over its decisions. Even before the said assembly, students were already against F2F classes, citing the government’s misguided efforts in addressing the pandemic.

Dentistry is a technical and practical course. Almost everything should be done in person, not to mention that the majority of the devices and equipment needed can only be provided by the college.

On August 24, a statement from UPCD Dean Danilo Magtanong manifested that some courses are needed to be administered via F2F contact. He emphasized that F2F sessions are for redesigned courses that have exhausted all means to deliver instructions for its enrollees.

Worsening Cavities

As of writing, the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) approval regarding the resumption of F2F classes is not yet released. Likewise, the UPM administration remains silent regarding the continuation of F2F classes for UPCD since its town hall meeting.

During the 1st UP Manila League of College Student Councils (LCSC) General Assembly, UPM University Student Council (USC) Chairperson Prince Turtogo expressed his sentiments regarding the administration’s lack of updates regarding UPCD’s F2F classes. He said that despite having dialogues with the UPM administration, important issues were still not addressed.

“Isang masusing atake dito sa isyu ay yung talagang clamor o extralegal. [Hangga’t hindi] matugunan ang mga [resolusyon, rekomendasyon, at apela] ng mga [estudyante ng UPCD], wala dapat face-to-face classes [na puwedeng makaapekto sa kalusugan ng mag-aaral],” he said in a statement.

In a Facebook post, the UP DSC called on the current administration to suspend F2F classes, stating that they have exhausted all means for their calls to be heard. They also exclaimed that the administration should be held accountable if they pushed to continue F2F classes on September 10.

“For the College of Dentistry’s continuation of face-to-face classes, it must ensure that the students, faculty, and staff are provided with extensive plans that will adhere to the body’s call for transparency, effective triage protocols, dormitories, free PPE, and other necessary materials for its safety and well-being.”

The UP DSC’s post can be accessed through this link: https://www.facebook.com/updentsc/posts/3116199155145970

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