October 3, 2023

Learners are excited when they hear about the resumption of face-to-face classes, although limited. However, some parents may feel the opposite. As school institutions are preparing for the limited face-to-face classes, parents and teachers may have doubts if schools are already prepared for the challenges the students may encounter, including the assurance of their children’s health and safety. It is undeniable that the tremendous effect of the global health crisis affected schools in the country. Children had gone through lots of frustrations while doing modules and parents had to experience being teachers of their own kids. The social skills of these children had also been affected since they are isolated in their own homes, due to the new system of learning.
It is really good to hear that some schools in Mountain Province and Benguet have already piloted face-to-face classes. These schools have passed the strict vetting process by the Department of Education and Department of Health, and have the support of their local government units. Now that face-to-face classes has been piloted, the big question is: Are schools ready for the gradual transition of the education system? Does the limited face-to-face class lessen the burden of students, parents, and teachers with regard to students’ learning?
The predicament of this decision brought the DepEd and DOH, together with concerned local government units to a rigorous planning before piloting the limited face-to-face class. They need to work together for the success of the pilot face-to-face classes, considering that every school must follow health protocols.
One of the responsibilities of the teachers in terms of health protocols is to educate the students on how to follow different health protocols to avoid being infected by the virus. Since children are naturally playful, they might not fully understand the concept of social or physical distancing. Teachers need to set their classrooms well. The physical arrangement of the classroom will have to be set up to enable physical distancing, and the conduct of classroom activities would surely have to be different from the common practice before the health crisis. In such case, students may feel unaccustomed to their new learning environment, so teachers should discuss the importance of the new classroom set up.
It has been decided that the limited face-to-face classes must follow the prioritization of students according to the DepEd, which means that students who really need the face-to-face learning will be the priority.
Students have different abilities. There are students who can cope very well with the modular learning system with the limited guidance of their parents and teachers, but there are learners who can only learn through actual class from a teacher. The latter kind of students will be given priority for the face-to-face learning. However, the said learning system does not mean that school institutions will be back to the traditional way of learning and teaching since face-to-face learning will be combined with distance learning. Therefore, there is no doubt that the ability and creativity of teachers are at stake, for they have to be flexible in terms of teaching approaches, techniques, and strategies.
There are various challenges along the way in the implementation of the limited face-to-face classes. School institutions will surely face some issues especially on the first day of classes, however with the help of the local government units, stakeholders, and the community, nothing is impossible. The remnants of the global pandemic will remain a huge lesson for school institutions and administrators to plan the most applicable learning system during this time of crisis. The Covid-19 will lead us to realization that education is essential, and it has to continue whatever it takes. It is indeed true that we do not know how the pandemic will treat us in the following days or months, but one thing is for sure, this global health crisis will not stop pupils and students to learn for their future. (GRACIELA WAKIN POLKING)