TAU sustains Anti-COVID-19 initiatives in the new normal
As with other establishments and institutions, the TAU Task Force sustains its efforts in implementing safety protocol measures against COVID-19 pandemic when work resumes at TAU after the national government placed the Tarlac province under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) on May 16.
After work was suspended for 58 days when Tarlac was under the Enhanced Community Quarantine, all TAU employees who returned to work as part of the TAU skeletal workforce followed strict Anti-COVID-19 protocols as initiated by the TAU Medical and Dental Services Unit. The skeletal workforce members also adapted the alternative work arrangement as per the Philippine Civil Service Announcement No. 13 s. 2020 released on March 17, 2020. Employees experiencing symptoms like cough, headache, and colds are not allowed to enter the University. Visitors may be given entry subjected to the approval of the TAU Task Force. Meanwhile, the “vulnerable” employees such as the senior faculty/personnel, pregnant women, students age 21 years old below, and PWDs shall not report to the University, instead they will be doing their tasks/work from home.
As the pandemic paralyzes the world’s economy, the University discouraged face-to-face classes and opted to adopt distance learning mode. Faculty and students gradually coped up with the new method of handling of classes during the ECQ period. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) did not recommend the mass promotion for all the students enrolled during the ECQ period despite the strong call from the students experiencing difficulty accessing the internet to accomplish their remaining requirements online. To address the students’ predicaments, the TAU Academic Council released implementing guidelines in adjusting online classes into flexible learning mode, so the students who lack resources in engaging to online classes can still catch up with the lessons asynchronously and could still comply with the requirements assigned to them for the semester.
When the national government strictly implemented travel ban during the ECQ, many of the TAU students were stranded at their dormitories. With the College Deans and faculty's efforts, the administration supported the necessities of their stranded students. The TAU Task Force regularly provided the students with food supply during the ECQ period. With the approval of the IATF, the TAU Task Force also initiated its own “Balik Probinsiya” program. The administration arranged transportation and ensured the safe travel of the stranded students as they returned to their home provinces.
Meanwhile, the TAU Office of Student Services and Development, the Guidance Counselors and Psychometricians offered free consultation via online chat or calls for all employees and students experiencing mental health issues and anxiety amidst the pandemic situation.
The TAU Task Force also initiated the mobile cashier service to deliver the TAU personnel salary with Contract-of-Service and Job Order status in a specific meeting point while the province was under the ECQ. TAU initiated the delivery of one sack of rice at the doorstep of every TAU employee as means of support to employees and their families.
As the situation eased up a bit and the TAU academic community realized the impact of the pandemic to the education sector, the Office of Vice President of Academic Affairs (OVPAA), in collaboration with Office of External Linkages and International Affairs (ELIA), pursued the preparation for the flexible learning under the new normal. Consequently, they initiated the TAU Webinar Series for the TAU faculty, which they made public via Facebook Live, so this would be accessible to all educators needing support about the Education 4.0.
To adequately prepare learning solutions towards the realization of Education 4.0, the TAU academic community is urging the need for IT hardware and software, a virtual learning management system, and upgraded technology resources for flexible learning. Included in the University’s plans for the new normal, TAU faculty have started preparing Learning Resource Packets (LRP) for the upcoming first semester. These LRPs included the syllabus, supplementary readings, and activities the students must accomplish for their flexible learning. With the approval of the Board of Regents (BOR) and the Academic Council, TAU pursued the offering of midyear classes in the graduate programs.
Though the Tarlac province was already placed under the Modified General Community Quarantine, COVID-19 patients increase by thousands nationwide every day. Hence, the TAU- Admission and Registration Services encouraged the conduct of online enrolment for the first semester of SY 2020-2021. The opening of flexible learning classes at TAU, which was initially set on August 10, has been adjusted by the Administrative Council. The Council announced that classes will open on August 24 to give the faculty, students, and parents time to prepare for the new normal society. (RCalpito, PDO)