ILOILO CITY—The shift to online classes at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) as precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19 is a daunting prospect for students and teachers.

Adrian Camposagrado, chair of the UPV University Student Council (USC), said lack of stable internet access is a common concern among students after the UP system suspended face to face classes and shifted to “blended learning.”

He said students have been complaining of slow internet connection in dormitories in UPV’s main campus in Miag-ao town in Iloilo province.

Other students have also raised concern that they will have no internet access in their hometowns especially if communities impose quarantine measures.

The shift, which was planned for implementation starting in June, has been moved ahead to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan was earlier designed to keep classes going during natural disasters and other disruptive events.

The blended mode of learning included the use of online resources like video conferencing.

The online classes are expected to start within the next two weeks in UPV.

A rapid assessment survey showed that nearly 64 percent of students reside off-campus with varying degrees and modes of internet connection. The survey was led by faculty member Clyde Gacayan and supported by other faculty members, employees and UPV University Student Council.

Expenses for online access are expected to increase for internet cafes and mobile data, according to the survey conducted among 1,195 respondents, mostly students.

It said students’ weekly expenses on mobile data could go as high as P2,000 at an average of P100 weekly.

It also showed that more students residing on campus said they experience slow Wi-Fi compared to those off campus.

While most of respondents are familiar with online learning platforms, the familiarity is “only with the basic interface and functions.”

Among the recommendations for those conducting online classes was to consider students who cannot go online, those living in campus and off campus with varying degrees of internet access.

Online classes should also be managed to minimize cost of going online and the use of mobile data.

The UP Open University, the UP academic unit and pioneer in open and distance eLearning in the country, is offering free guides and online courses for universities and colleges shifting to online mode of instruction.