The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) and the Lipa City Health Office begged to differ with the institution’s mandate in restricting students’ entry to the campus during Wednesdays as a precautionary measure to the possible risks posed by Taal Volcano activities and the spread of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Feb. 28.
According to Ma. Antonia Bornas, chief of PHIVOLCS’ Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division, the possibility for any potential volcanic hazard to the city or to the institution itself is relatively low, with Taal’s current alert level 2 status.
“I think everyone understands na when it comes to a volcanic eruption, this [banning of entry on Wednesdays] doesn’t make sense kasi walang pinipiling araw kung puputok nang malakas ang bulkan,” Bornas said.
As the institution is outside the 14-kilometer danger zone, Bornas added that the only precaution that the school should take is the occurrence of ashfall during the volcano’s eruptive phase.
Bornas also emphasized that Taal has not recently shown vigorous activities in the main crater which is an indication that the situation is slowly going back to normal.
On the other hand, Dr. Alex Silang, Lipa City’s head city health officer, said that the school’s directive was not an effective solution in protecting students from contracting the COVID-19 disease.
“Walang araw ang pagkakaroon ng nCoV. Sa ngayon, hindi pa naman dapat mabahala. Kumbaga, baka nag-overreact lang sila [De La Salle Lipa] sa sitwasyon,” Dr. Silang said.
As two persons under investigation tested negative for the virus in Lipa, Dr. Silang said that the institution need not to worry over virus transmission within the school premises unless there were students who travelled from countries with reported cases.
Furthemore, it was determined that the school did not seek the medical advice of the Institutional Health Services (IHS) regarding the mandate. Dr. Ma. Theresa Atienza, IHS supervisor, said that all precautionary measures and advisories released were coordinated with them except for this particular announcement.
Meanwhile, Lasallians also expressed their concerns prior to the given institutional directive.
The Student Government (SG) President William Kyle Deveza said that students with official business were initially granted entry in campus during Wednesdays; however, the permission was taken back without consulting with the SG.
“It was unjust and [it] caused major inconveniences to the student leaders. Subjects and project studies were also affected because consultations were originally planned on Wednesdays,” Deveza said.
“Hindi kasi maiwasan [na] need pumunta sa school lalo na kapag urgent ang documents. Hindi [pa] rin [ako makapagsimula ng] OJT dahil sa pending documents,” Angelika Fadriquela, a fourth year BS Psychology student, said.
DLSL announced last Feb. 7 that students in all levels may no longer access the campus facilities for academic works during Wednesdays, due to ‘complex and ambiguous’ situations involving the Taal Volcano activities and the dangers of the COVID-19 disease.
As of yesterday, DLSL announced that the conduct of home-based, self-paced and individualized learning during Wednesdays is still in effect until March 25 for the Integrated School.