The declaration of an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the entire Luzon in adherence to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Presidential Proclamation 922 to put the country in a State of Public Health Emergency has drastically affected the University especially its students. Even so, this crisis caused by the Corona Virus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19), has evoked the commitment, resourcefulness and compassion from BSU constituents.
BSU employees and volunteers extend assistance to stranded students
When the ECQ was declared in March 17, 2020, many students were not able to go back to their hometowns. Some students started informing their instructors and schoolmates that they were running out of supplies. To get hold of the situation, the Office of Student Services (OSS) and Supreme Student Government (SSG) launched the Sagip Kapatid survey on March 19, 2020 through Google Forms. The result of the survey along with the messages received by instructors revealed that there are around 200 BSU students who are stranded in La Trinidad.
BSU officials then had a meeting on March 23, 2020 to address the situation. The list of stranded students was also forwarded to the La Trinidad Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) for coordination to the respective hometowns of the stranded students. Dr. Florence V. Poltic, one of the University Physicians has also attended a meeting with the mayors and governor of Benguet and updated that the Local Government Units (LGUs) are still accommodating stranded students who wish to go back to their hometowns. These students were then contacted by the MDRRMO and the LGUs.
Two ways to help stranded BSU students were opened. One was through the donation drive. On March 27-28, there were 161 food and hygiene packs distributed to students. The food and hygiene packs consisted of rice, canned goods, condiments, strawberries, eggs, bread, fruits, vegetables and facemasks. The donations came from BSU employees, BSU Poultry, BSU-OES farm, BSU Alumni Association Inc., BSU Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Adlaine Bakery, CATDAVES tailor shop, incubatees or farmers from the BSU-ATBI/IC and private individuals.The University Health Services (UHS) also provided medicines for the students who needed it. The second wave of relief was distributed on April 3-4, 2020.
The other way to help was through the Adopt-a-BSU Student scheme where volunteer foster guardians can make arrangements so that the student will not have to go to the BSU Administration Building to get supplies. This also helped in the social distancing.
Most of those who volunteered to be foster parents or guardians are employees of the University and members of the Sanguniang Bayan of La Trinidad. There are more than 90 stranded students that were already adopted.
BSU assists community with various services
Aside from being donors to the donation drive for students, BSU employees, students and partners also volunteered their services.
Despite numerous memoranda allowing employees to work from home, staff of the BSU Clinic led by Dr. Florence Poltic volunteered as frontliners at the Benguet AgriPinoy Trading Center. Employees at the Gladiola Center also continue to report as the center was opened to Benguet General Hospital health workers and LGU personnel who would want to take a rest after their work hours. The newly- built College Dormitory was also inspected by the Provincial Health Office to be used as a quarantine center. This is subject to the Memorandum of Agreement and compliance to the guidelines issued by CHED for use of facilities. Faculty members of the CAS-Department of Chemistry also produced alcohol solutions.
Employees of the OSS, Administration offices and Men’s Dormitory along with their students also participated in the harvesting, re-packing and distribution of the food and hygiene packs to the students. Job order personnel were also given rice. Salaries and benefits were also released to the employees to ease difficulty in these times.
Likewise, a group from the University Business Affairs and Human Resource Management Office heeded the call for help from farmers in harvesting their crops to be donated. The group not only assisted in harvesting but also in distributing the vegetables to the municipality, the barangays, in the BJMP and in the checkpoints in Balili, of course in partnership with the La Trinidad LGU.
A group of BSU students and employees also volunteered to translate and disseminate information about COVID-19 into local dialects.//