CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – In keeping with the culture of “new normal” as a result of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, a Catholic multi-level school here is set to start the school year by introducing non-traditional arrangements for its students.
The Jesuit-run Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (XU) said Sunday it will open its grade school, junior and senior high school and college (except for graduate school, law, and medicine) campuses in July.
All its undergraduate schools will follow a quarterly schedule, with a college semester composed of two quarters.
The first semester is divided into two quarters, July to mid-September and mid-September to November, and December to February and March to mid-May.
For school year 2020-2021, the school will be adopting “flexible learning arrangements” consisting of two components designed to adjust to the public health crisis, XU president Fr. Roberto Yap said.
Those components, Yap said in his May 7 memorandum to the XU community, include home-based learning, and cautious return to on-campus learning.
“We plan to begin SY 2020-2021 in July 2020 following Home-Based Learning and then shift to Cautious Return to On-Campus Leaning when the government will allow return of physical classes on campus,” Yap said.
Home-based learning will consist of portable learning packets (hard and soft copies), online learning (synchronous and asynchronous), and online student support.
Courses that cannot be delivered by home-based learning according to XU standards will be postponed to a later time, he said.
Yap said the cautious return to on-campus learning will strictly enforce the observance of physical distancing, a limited number of students in a classroom, safety and sanitary precautions, and limited large gatherings.
The flexible learning, he said, is a combination of those components to ensure that minimum standards of the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education are met.
XU will implement these new learning arrangements with the following aspects in mind: outcomes-based and performance task assessment, self-directed learning, regular consultation with teacher, peer-to-peer learning, guidance and counseling services, student support services, Ignatian formation, reduced student loads, smaller class sizes, staggered schedules, and several shifts.
For the graduate school and professional schools of law and medicine, their school year will start in August and will end in May the following year.
“Although the tuition fee increase has already been approved, there will be no tuition increase for SY 2020-2021 and some miscellaneous fees will be reduced in view of flexible learning,” Yap said.
“We will also work hard to increase our scholarship and financial aid programs. These measures are taken to help parents cope with the present crisis. Each school will release an updated assessment of tuition and fees, modes of payments, and payment installment options before enrollment,” he added.
During May to June 2020 and in the course of the school year, XU’s teaching faculty will be undergoing systematic and intensive training so they can facilitate quality flexible learning, especially home-based learning, Yap said.
“XU is also strengthening IT support and improving access to internet and gadgets for faculty and students. Those who have insufficient access to the internet and gadgets will be provided hard copies of the portable learning packets,” he said.
“We realize for basic education students, especially our grade schoolers, successful home-based learning requires the active engagement of parents and guardians. We are counting on you to work with us so that your children’s learning doesn’t stop due to the pandemic,” Yap added.
To prepare for cautious return to on-campus learning, XU will be making the necessary and critical infrastructure adjustments to ensure all four of school’s campuses (Divisoria, Pueblo, Macasandig, and Manresa) remain safe for everyone even now and in preparation for the time when some form of on-site education can already happen, he said.
“Under flexible learning, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities will unavoidably be very limited. But under these unusual arrangements, we will do our best that flexible learning is marked by the characteristics of Jesuit education,” he said.
“We will be insistent and incessant in forming our students to become men and women for others. Rest assured that we will always aim for Jesuit whole-person education that guarantees academic competence while providing ‘cura personalis’ (personal care) for each learner,” he added. (ia/PNA)