Emy Ruth Gianan, News, Communication Management Office
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) launched its system-wide response to COVID-19. Through the able leadership of newly installed president, Dr. Manuel M. Muhi, the community undertook various efforts to ensure the safety of its students, faculty members, and employees. Major clusters of response include implementation of institutional policies, provision of financial and in-kind assistance to members of the community, and the use of innovative initiatives to address the impact of the pandemic. 12 branches and 10 campuses are currently affected by the ECQ.
Implementation of institutional policies
As early as February 2020, decisive measures were implemented such as instituting a mandatory 14-day quarantine for PUPians who travelled abroad, providing alcohol and hand sanitizers within school premises as well as campus-wide disinfection to encourage cleanliness, and release of information pamphlets and videos for greater awareness about the impact of coronavirus. School activities that have mass gatherings were also cancelled early on to effectively implement social distancing. The policies were initially applied at the Sta. Mesa Campus, and later implemented across all branches and campuses in Luzon. Branches and campuses are also directly coordinating with their respective local government units (LGUs) for community assistance and regular disinfection.
The administration complied with the directive from Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso to suspend classes in schools and universities from March 10 to 14 as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus. On March 17, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island cluster of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until April 30. This meant the public should stay indoors to ensure social distancing, further cancellation of classes and work, and suspension of mass transportation. The whole PUP system complied with the same policy. Updates as to persons under monitoring (PUMs) and under investigation (PUIs) due to possible exposure to SARS-coronavirus which causes COVID-19 are also regularly communicated to Sta. Mesa Campus for data consolidation and systematized response.
Corollary, the University also advised against the submission of online academic requirements. Majority of the students do not have adequate access to reliable internet connection especially those in branches and campuses; also, these activities may take a toll on their mental health given the severity of the pandemic. Directives to ease work-from-home arrangements for employees were also secured.
Provision of financial and in-kind assistance to PUP community
Faculty and employees of the university, including those in branches and campuses, immediately received their salaries and allowances as soon as the ECQ ensued. Even during the lockdown, employees would have enough resources to utilize for food and other essential needs.
Through the aid of the National Service Training Program (NSTP), university officials were able to track down students stranded in their dormitories near Sta. Mesa Campus. The same tracking has been organized in branches and campuses to determine the safety of students who reside inside or near our schools. They were given food supplies and later, offered transportation services so they can get back to their homes and be with their families. Meanwhile, members of the community in need of mental health assistance may avail of the e-counselling services offered by the Psychology Department and Guidance Counselling Office. Several branches and campuses tap their local Medical Services Department to offer counselling via phone patch.
Use of innovative initiatives to address the impact of the pandemic
The crisis opened various opportunities for the university to lend its expertise through different innovations. Dr. Armin Coronado and his team in the Institute for Science and Technology Research (ISTR) produced local ethyl alcohol as commercial supplies have already dwindled. With increased support from several donors, the locally produced alcohol has since been distributed to barangays, police stations, command outposts, and hospitals near the Sta. Mesa Campus. Several more were provided to branches and campuses for further distribution.
Meanwhile, a group of students from the Colleges of Engineering (CE) and Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA) produced face shields and developed an original design for protective helmets to meet the need for more personal protective equipment (PPEs) needed by COVID frontliners. PPEs were also distributed to barangays, police stations and command outposts, and hospitals. Requests for these materials have increased as soon as these were promoted by student volunteers in social media platforms. Students from branches and campuses also printed face shields for local distribution.
Members of the PUP community also reached out through provision of food packs to marginalized sectors of the society. Several branches and campuses also extended their relief efforts to individuals who serve at the frontlines—police officers at command posts, security guards and barangay officials who ensure local peace and order, and hospital workers. Faculty and administrative employees also participated in information awareness campaigns to help more people practice effective social distancing, proper handwashing and other hygienic practices.
Truly, the motto “mula sa iyo, para sa bayan” is embodied by the community as the University commits itself to continue its efforts against COVID-19. #
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