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Online classes are in session, but it’s not for everyone

Online classes are in session, but it’s not for everyone

It all started with a week of suspension amid the crisis of COVID-19. Then, everything went to chaos. One thing led to another and before we could even process it, President Duterte announced the “enhanced community quarantine” in Metro Manila in attempts to ease the ongoing crisis.

For students, a small break is always nice, but to have online classes ongoing at a time like this? Time to rethink this alternative. Let me make my case: Sure, online classes are one alternative to this catastrophic event. But looking at it outside a privileged bubble, online classes are straight-up anti-poor. Not everyone has strong internet access, or rather, not everyone has internet access in the first place.

While Filipinos are heavy users of the internet, one major problem in the country is the internet speed. According to Inquirer, Filipinos spend an average of 10 hours and two minutes per day are online. On the other hand, the mobile internet speed in the country is still well below most of the developed world according to a Speedtest Global Index report last year. With 9 Mbps, Smart edges Globe with 5.5 Mbps download speeds. That’s not saying much considering how much we pay for the internet.

Not everyone has the luxury of owning a laptop either. Some hop on to a net café, needing to exert more effort just to do school requirements. Safety is a priority and staying indoors is a must. Yes, we can access the internet with our phone, but not every student has a smartphone.

Read more: Luzon lockdown stories that will make you check your privilege

Recently, the hashtag #SuspendOnlineClassesCSB trended on Twitter. Students from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) voiced out on the College’s decision to forego online classes. The College’s political party, ADLAW, stands with their fellow Benildeans and believes that face-to-face learning is more effective. Both the students and the professors should focus on their physical, emotional and mental well-being.

Sure, online classes are one alternative to this catastrophic event. But looking at it outside a privileged bubble, online classes are straight-up anti-poor.

Tweets from DLS-CSB students voiced out on the lack of equipment and materials. The bombarding of activities, output-based subjects and personal concerns and connection issues are factors as well.

Truth be told, online classes may not be the best way to maximize education when most curriculums were designed for on-campus learning. For students in the field of science, lab equipment and facilities are a necessity (who would have a beaker at home?). Professors and teachers need lecture materials. Yes, resorting to technology and utilizing the digital world is needed for innovation. But the problem is having little to no access to technology.

Read more: For us working class, ‘social distancing’ doesn’t cut it

In this time of crisis, the one-month suspension can be a time for rest and well, a time for staying indoors and keeping safe. For the reasons listed above, this isn’t just us wanting a free break.

According to Business Mirror, Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease stated that lost revenues, time, and events can be recovered. DepEd’s call for the one-month suspension of classes is a way to lessen the spread of the virus. Risking the lives of the people with insufficient preparation isn’t the way to go.

Yes, education must continue, but in times like these, we need to rethink what’s best for us students.

The 2019-2020 school year will end on Apr. 3, according to DepEd’s calendar. Plans on cutting the school year short have been taken into consideration. Passing all students may be efficient, but as we can figure, that doesn’t seem right.

In the end, health is the number one priority right now. Yes, education must continue, but in times like these, we need to rethink what’s best for us students. Say what you will about students just staying at home, but everyone’s safety and health should be placed at the forefront. What we need to think about is food, water, medicine and shelter for survival.

For now, being informed about safety is one way to ease the spread of the virus. In these types of situations, we have vigilance and unity to lean on.

Art by Zaila Mae Urmeneta

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