Student Life

End of 2nd Sem AY 2019-2020

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UP students given options in complying with course reqs, safety nets against failing grades

April 17, 2020 | Written by Celeste Ann Castillo Llaneta (Reprinted from:
In light of the global pandemic and enhanced community quarantine declared across most of the country, the University of the Philippines has decided to end the second semester of AY 2019-2020 on April 30, 2020, instead of the original May 23, 2020.

This decision was made during a meeting of the UP Board of Regents (UP BOR) held on April 16, following deliberations and revisions of a proposal submitted by the President’s Advisory Council, a committee composed of the UP System vice presidents and the chancellors of all UP constituent units. The details of the final decision and corresponding guidelines will be issued in an official memo that will soon be made available and cascaded through proper channels.

With this decision, UP students in all constituent units are given two options. They can choose to complete their course requirements until May 31, 2021, and upon compliance shall be given a numeric grade under a “deferred grade” scheme. Instead of receiving a failing grade, students who find themselves unable to complete their course requirements by May 2021 will be considered dropped and will have to retake the course in the succeeding semester.

However, students whose circumstances allow them to work on course requirements during quarantine, can choose to complete these requirements, following the adjusted syllabus and the deadlines set by their constituent university. They will then be given a numerical grade based on faculty assessment of their performance.

Moreover, students who enrolled in a course that is a prerequisite to a higher course will be allowed to enroll in the latter for credit, despite the “deferred grade” for the prerequisite course. To help students catch up with their courses, departments, units and institutes shall offer bridging programs during the first semester of AY 2020-2021.

Departments and faculty have been urged to prepare necessary course requirements that will allow them to assess academic performance, taking into consideration the crisis conditions the students are working in. These adjusted course requirements must be communicated to the students by May 1, 2020.

For postgraduate students, their departments, units and institutions shall determine how best to proceed with the courses and how to assess students’ academic performances, in consultation with the students and in consideration of the current crisis situation.

UP is also waiving academic rules as well as policies on scholastic standing and student financial assistance.

Specifically, the deadlines for the dropping of subjects and for filing Leave of Absence for the second semester of AY 2019-2020 are lifted. As for the maximum residency rule, residence for this semester shall not be counted in the years of residence of a student.

A student who incurred a grade of incomplete (INC) during the second semester of AY 2018-2019 shall be allowed to remove the INC until first semester AY 2020-2021. Similarly, a student who incurred a grade of 4.0 during the same period shall also be allowed to remove the 4.0 until first semester AY 2020-2021.

Rules on scholastic standing (delinquency), including rules on warning, probation, dismissal and permanent disqualification, are suspended for the second semester AY 2019-2020. Policies on student financial assistance, which are tied to scholastic standing, are similarly suspended.

The University will continue to explore alternative modes of instruction, requirements and assessment methods that are consistent with its mandate as national university, and with the principles of honor and excellence, all while taking into account the extreme conditions, unequal life circumstances, and high levels of anxiety, stress and suffering that UP faculty and students are enduring.
Memorandum No. LND 2020-49
A-Memorandum No. 0SU2020-01-02_Notice of BOR Resolutions at its Special Meeting held on 16 April 2020
B-Revised_UP System Policy on the Second Semester AY 2019-2020 in the Time of COVID-19
[Browse here:
Davao City Should Consider Extending Community Quarantine Beyond April 19 and Conduct More Tests for COVID-19—UP Mindanao Researchers
A recent study by the Interdisciplinary Applied Modeling (IAM) laboratory of the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao recommends that “the local government should consider extending the community quarantine” beyond the April 19 end date of the community quarantine in Davao City. The IAM lab is part of the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team – Bioinformatics and Modeling Group, which is mainly composed of mathematicians across the different UP campuses.
The team headed by Dr. May Anne Mata, an associate professor in applied mathematics specializing in mathematical biology, simulated a model to predict the effect of lifting the community quarantine on April 19 and July 1 based on parameter estimates obtained by fitting an epidemiological model to the cumulative confirmed cases in the Davao Region from March 15 to April 4.
The model has five population categories, namely, Susceptible (at risk to contract the disease), Exposed (infected but not infectious), Asymptomatic Infectious (without symptoms but infectious), Confirmed Cases (assumed isolated and will not infect the susceptible), and Unreported Infectious (includes only those with symptoms).
“When CQ [community quarantine] is lifted on April 19, the infected population will continue to persist . . . For instance, we see that the exposed population is stable from May to July after it peaks during the last week of March,” the study finds. “However, if we maintain CQ at the status quo’s rates of transmission and confirmation, we observe a decreasing trend in the number of exposed individuals around mid-May.”
Dr. Mata, however, cautions that the model estimates are dependent on various assumptions and only show a possible, more likely scenario. Hence, predicting the appropriate lifting date is difficult and can only be accurately obtained by increasing the number of observations and updating parameter estimates. 
“Lifting the quarantine prematurely is very risky. To be safe, perhaps we can extend the community quarantine for 14 days. If we get 0 new cases and 0 new PUIs [persons under investigation] within that period, then we can lift the community quarantine,” Dr. Mata suggests.
The next phase of the study will fit the model on data within the duration of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from April 4 to 19, covered by EO no. 23A series 2020, to see if the strategy is effective.  
Extending the community quarantine, however, has an economic tradeoff, one that is difficult to model at this time. “We just don’t have data on logistics like total budget of Davao City government for COVID-19 response, breakdown per barangay, cost of goods distribution, budget per household, just to name a few, to do a model on this. Also, this will require a different modeling strategy.” 
Using the same data, another study by the team shows the importance of testing persons under monitoring (PUMs) and persons under investigation (PUIs). “We recommend that the government should consider testing more PUMs and/or PUIs in the region for early detection of infected population so that these individuals will be isolated immediately from the susceptible pool,” the study states. This point is particularly important for asymptomatic individuals who may show no signs of disease but may freely and unknowingly spread the disease to the population.
In another study, researcher Zython Paul Lachica and other members of the IAM lab team collated available information from COVID-19 positive cases from the Department of Health within a 40-day observation period to assess the risk factors that increase a patient’s hazard rate. 
The study yielded the following preliminary findings: “Male COVID-19 positive patients are estimated to face a hazard rate of 12.79 times the hazard faced by female patients. Coughing patients face a hazard that is 28.35 times the hazard of those who have no cough. Furthermore, a patient with pre-existing condition”—such as hypertension, kidney problem, and/or diabetes—“may have a hazard rate of 2,838 times the hazard rate of patient without any preexisting conditions. On the other hand, patients who are 55 to 64 years old and 65 to 74 years old face hazard rates that are less than patients who are 75 years and older.” It should be noted that these results are based on preliminary data, and the hazard estimates will be fine-tuned once more data becomes available.
Based on these findings, the study recommends prioritizing for testing patients who are 75 years and older and those with preexisting medical conditions once they experience coughing, persons under monitoring who might be asymptomatic patients, as well as those with high exposure to the COVID-19 positive patients such as health workers. 
Setting up more testing centers in the different regions is vital to contain COVID-19 cases as the study shows that “having test results within 1 to 3 days after the onset of symptoms reduces hazard rates to almost 0%.” Survival rates decrease dramatically as the number of days before getting the test results increase.
The IAM lab was initiated by researchers from UP Mindanao’s Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science to help the government in making science-based decisions. The three studies by the lab were already sent for review to the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team and are freely shared to local decision makers as input for strategies.
Since last March, UP Mindanao through the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao has entered into talks with the Department of Health XI, Davao del Norte LGUs, and the private sector to establish a COVID-19 testing laboratory that will be attached to the Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) in order to supplement the testing capacity of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in the Davao Region. 

UP Mindanao, 15 March-3 April 2020

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15 March 2020–3 April 2020


“In the past two years, we have experienced major disruptions. Last year, we had to deal with the various earthquakes that hit Mindanao. This year, we—and the rest of the world—face another threat in the form of a pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease.
“What disruptive events such as this pandemic teaches us is the importance of focusing on what really matters. And right now, during this difficult time, what the university is focusing on is taking care of its constituents, particularly our students, our teaching and nonteaching staff, and our non-UP contractual staff.”
—Prof. Larry N. Digal, PhD, Chancellor
19 April 2020 | End of extended work and class suspension unless further extended, modified, or withdrawn
8 April 2020 | Deadline for submission of work accomplishment for 17–31 March 2020
4 April 2020 | Bayanihan for our non-government service, security, and sanitation personnel (Read letter here:
30 March–15 April 2020 | Ongoing work-from-home (WFH) training for all UP Mindanao personnel
We are currently working out a system for tracking the condition of UP Mindanao constituents, particularly students (through the Office of Student Affairs) and employees (through the Human Resource and Development Office). The tracker will go live in the next volume of the bulletin.
UP System Memoranda and Other Releases
03 April 2020 | Memorandum no. NGY 20-56. Submission of Work Accomplishment from 17–31 March 2020 and 1–14 April 2020.
02 April 2020 | UP System IT. Reminder on Secure Zoom Meeting Sessions. (Email sent to everyone)
25 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LGSB 2020-017. Submission of Project Proposals for UPSA Funding Request.
20 March 2020 | Memorandum no. OVPAA 2020-40. Payment of Salaries of Lecturers and Teaching Assistant/Teaching Fellows up to 15 April 2020.
17 March 2020 | UP System IT. Zoom Video Conferencing Access for UP Faculty and REPS. (Email sent to everyone)
17 March 2020 | Memorandum no. OVPAA 2020-39. Addendum to Memorandum no. OVPAA 2020-38 on the Suspension of Classes in All UP Constituent Universities Except UP Open University.
13 March 2020 | Memorandum no. NGY 2020-44. Implementation of Alternative Work Arrangement.
05 March 2020 | Memorandum no. NGY 2020-33. CSC Guidelines on the Procedure of Availment of Leave Privileges for Absences Incurred in Relation to Self-Quarantine and/or Treatment of Public Sector Officials and Employees Relative to COVID-19.
UP Mindanao Memoranda and Other Releases
2 April 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-041. Extension of Work and Class Suspension until 19 April 2020 Unless Further Extended, Modified or Withdrawn.
1 April 2020 | Memorandum no. MTRE 2020-005. Misting/Disinfection of the City Health Office in UP Mindanao on 1 April 2020.
26 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-40. Work-from-home (WFH) training for all UP Mindanao personnel from 30 March to 15 April 2020.
20 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-034. Clarification on the Early Release of Salaries of Non-UP Contractual Personnel and Project-based Personnel.
19 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-033. Skeletal Force During Community Quarantine and Possible Lockdown Due to COVID-19
18 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-032. Work Arrangement During Community Quarantine Due to COVID-19
17 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 20200-031a. Early Release of Salaries of Regular and Non-UP Contractual Personnel and Project-based Personnel.
17 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-031b. Requirements for Early Release of Salaries of Non-UP Contractual Personnel and Project-based Personnel.
17 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-029. Release of P25K CNA incentive.
16 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-028. Reiteration of the Suspension of Work and Cancellation of Classes.
16 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-27A. Clarification on Memorandum no. LND-27, “Implementation of Alternative Work Arrangement in Relation to COVID-19 Code Red Sublevel 2 and Community Quarantine in Davao City”
15 March 2020 | Memorandum no. LND 2020-27. Implementation of alternative work arrangement in relation to COVID-19 Code Red Sublevel 2 and community quarantine in Davao City
13 March 2020 | Memorandum no. NBO 2020-16. Online mode of instruction.
02 April 2020 | SMAARDEC/PCAARRD Secretariat: 2020 Non-Degree Training Courses
Reference Materials

UP System Coronavirus advisories and prevention guidelines:

01 April 2020 | UP Philippine General Hospital Bayanihan Na! Operations Center is launched. Dial 155200 for assistance.
28 March 2020 | “Processing and release of 2020 UPCAT results suspended due to ECQ” (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
27 March 2020 | “Villanueva: State universities, colleges, need raw materials, support to continue initiatives against COVID-19” (Manila Bulletin).
26 March 2020 | “LGUs to support proposed laboratory" (The Mindanao Times).
26 March 2020 | “Call for volunteers for COVID-19 Testing Lab” (Philippine Genome Center-Mindanao).
26 March 2020 | UP Alumni Association Davao, Inc. has launched a donation drive to provision public health frontliners (UPMin Facebook page).
23 March 2020 | “UP Mindanao proposes diagnostic program to test for COVID-19 in Davao City” (Manila Bulletin).
20–28 March 2020 | Alumni, officials, staff, and students donated food and personal necessities for students stranded at the dormitory and nearby boarding houses (UPMin Facebook page).;; 
20 March 2020 | Launch of Online Portal of University of the Philippines CoViD-19 News and Information.
Rene Estremera
Public Relations Officer

Message from the Chancellor, 3 April 2020

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03 April 2020

Dear UP Mindanao constituents:
In the past two years, we have experienced major disruptions. Last year, we had to deal with the various earthquakes that hit Mindanao. This year, we—and the rest of the world—face another threat in the form of a pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease.
What disruptive events such as this pandemic teaches us is the importance of focusing on what really matters. And right now, during this difficult time, what the university is focusing on is taking care of its constituents, particularly our students, our teaching and nonteaching staff, and our non-UP contractual staff.
For our students, since classes were suspended on 17 March 2020, most of our 836 students have returned to their families. However, a few remain in the campus and in nearby residences (17 in the dorm, 27 outside) due to the distance to their hometowns or their family circumstances. For those remaining in campus, the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) is looking after their physical and mental wellbeing and is in close contact with their parents for updates on their situation. And for those who have gone home, OSA has also prepared a Student Monitoring Survey to check on the condition of our students, which has received 322 responses as of 6:00 a.m. on 3 April 2020.
I would like to extend my profound thanks to our alumni and constituents who generously shared their resources, both financial and in kind, so that the university can continue to take care of these stranded students by keeping them fed. Rest assured that as soon as travel outside Davao City and to other parts of the country are permitted, the university will make the necessary arrangements and provide assistance for these students’ safe return to their families.
For our teaching and nonteaching staff, most are now working from home in compliance with directives from the city government. The personnel who continue on-campus operations are the staff of the Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration, the finance offices, the Elias B. Lopez Hall dormitory, as well as our transport personnel who ferry members of the staff from their residences to our campus and our security and janitorial personnel who have quarters on campus.
Our main priority right now is for the release of salaries and benefits to personnel to ease economic hardships during these trying times. We will also undertake a donation drive to augment the limited assistance we can give for the needs of our non-government service and project-based personnel.
Our staff who continue to report to work are our front liners. They are risking their health and wellbeing in the face of this lockdown to ensure that we receive our salaries and benefits in the midst of this pandemic. We appreciate and thank them for their service. It is because of them that most of us can carry on our functions in the comfort and security of our homes.
After taking care of our own, we need to remember that our work in the university does not grind to a halt just because classes are suspended. We are, after all, not only an institution of higher learning, but a research and public service university as well. Especially during times of crisis, we need to ask ourselves: What can we do for the country?
I would like to commend the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao for their proposal to further enhance the diagnostic capability of the Davao Region. We are now working with the private sector and local government units to have this funded. The same goes to the researchers of the Department of Math, Physics, and Computer Science who are working with the Department of Science and Technology XI and the UP Resilience Institute to predict the spread of COVID-19 in the region and in Mindanao in order to inform the government’s key strategies.
Hopefully, more of our researchers can come up with ways to use their expertise to contribute in the fight against COVID-19 even within the restrictions of the quarantine.
For now, our campus academic oval is closed. Traffic is allowed only through the north road by the military camp and the south road through the Davao City-UP Sports Complex. The City Health Office did a disinfection of buildings and grounds by mist spraying last April 1. 
So, the big question is “what now?” What happens when the quarantine in Davao City is lifted on April 19 (or extended or withdrawn earlier)?
As many have pointed out, the COVID-19 pandemic is a litmus test for a country’s health care system. It is also a test for the university’s health care amenities as well. 
Our internal assessments have shown our weakness when it comes to our health care infrastructure in the university: we have inadequate healthcare personnel and facilities on campus. And we have been considering different medium- and long-term solutions to address this.
But in the immediate future when work and classes resume, our focus will be on setting sanitation protocols in place in line with recommendations from the Department of Health—i.e., mist sanitation of buildings, availability of sanitizers  and handwashing soap, protective masks for our healthcare and other personnel, just to name a few.
Also, as people go back to the campus, identifying persons under monitoring (PUMs) and persons under investigation (PUIs) is crucial to safeguard the health of our employees. We are now studying mechanisms for self-reporting if one of our constituents is considered a PUM or PUI without, of course, violating existing data privacy laws—as details about one’s health is considered “sensitive information” and governed by strict guidelines for data collection and reporting. We are also working on better ways that we can disseminate to the public information and policies related to this disease.
As for details about resumption of classes, these matters are all coordinated at the System level, with inputs from all the CUs, and we are still awaiting decisions from the UP Board of Regents and the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The UP Mindanao Executive Committee already held a videoconference meeting to discuss these matters last 31 March 2020, and we are working on various contingency plans depending on different scenarios. So, I urge the members of our faculty to be active in discussing these important matters with your deans.
I also appeal to our teaching staff to take seriously the “blended learning” initiatives of the university. Since 2016, the Interactive Learning Center/Learning Resource Center (ILC/LRC) has been conducting seminar-workshops to promote this pedagogical approach that combines face-to-face teaching and computer-mediated learning; however, adoption of the approach has been very limited. Please use this time during the enhanced community quarantine to look at how we can improve our coursework syllabus for online delivery.
Given the global scope of the COVID-19 pandemic, various epidemiological models suggest that even if we contain the disease in our country, future incident clusters of the disease are likely to pop up due to imported cases as borders are opened once again. Hence, it is better to be prepared for potential interruption of classes in the near future.
We are aware that some of our teaching staff and many of our students might not have devices for use in online learning or have access to personal Internet connections. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs has already coordinated with the colleges to conduct a survey so we will have a better picture of the situation and is working with the Information Technology Office to come up with a plan to mitigate this situation.
The disruption of the coronavirus disease will heavily affect many aspects of our society, and global policy experts predict that the fallout for this pandemic will be with us for years to come. Now more than ever, UP Mindanao needs to rise to the challenge in understanding various issues intrinsically linked to COVID-19 and other diseases that might threaten us in the future. Here are some ideas that come to my mind:
• For conservation biologist and environmental scientists – How can we better safeguard wildlife and their habitats to avoid transmission of disease from wild animals to humans in the future?

• For food scientists and scientists working in agriculture – How can we promote practices that contribute to food security, as well as provide safe food options in times of crisis?

• For economists and management scholars – What policies can we recommend post-COVID-19? How can we reboot our economy and help vulnerable communities such as small and medium enterprises after this pandemic?

• For social scientists and culture/communication scholars — What is the socio-cultural toll of events like this pandemic, and what can we do to help communities deal with this trauma?
I am certain that our community of scholars will perhaps have answers and, more importantly, will raise better questions. But I hope that we can all come together para sa bayan!
In the coming weeks, we will be issuing memos and guidelines through different communication channels on relevant policies and action plans to guide all of us as we prepare to tackle the rest of the current academic year and the incoming one.
Keep safe!


Prof. Larry N. Digal, PhD

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