Face the future

Costs of online schooling, indeed, initially dented the teachers’ own finances and presented an added burden to parents contending with lack of income or job loss.

August 9, 2022

A little girl named Elle went to school on Monday with the biggest smile on her face. She had been stuck at home, obediently attending online classes, since 2020.

In the beginning, her parents said she adjusted well to the virtual set-up. They made a study corner for her at home, her very own “work station.”

After two and a half years, Elle — a quiet girl to begin with, perfectly content to be on her own with her books — was raring to see her classmates and friends. Yes, even all her teachers.

A former favorite teacher of mine, who made me love words and writing, told me she believes “face-to-face classes are needed, BUT…”

The time has come for students to go back to school, the way it had always been done. Still, a big BUT she gave. Then she told me, in her storytelling style, what she thought about the upcoming face-to-face classes as directed by the Department of Education (DepEd): “My five-year-old nephew is in Kinder. He was in an online class for the second day this morning. He kept waving to his classmates and even touched the laptop screen as if to touch their faces.

“Last school year, he was enrolled in a Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) preschool that uses modules. He and his mother who has a full-time job work on the modules until late in the night. But only when she has the energy to help her son.”

Two things: The physical distance has been a challenge for children who are honing their social skills and hopefully forming bonds with peers. And the travails of working parents struggling to feed kids and tutor them through the new educational methods have been repeatedly discussed over the last two-and-a-half years.

We all thought, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, that it would never take this long.

Yet the need to return to “normal” has been strong, especially among school children, who were growing up with an entirely different set of routines and limitations.

The social aspect of growing up was lost, and many milestones were missed like a physical graduation march, birthdays with barkada, debut parties and so on.

My favorite English teacher then added: “Admired this DWSD teacher. From time to time, she’d call for a small group of students to come for evaluation. My nephew looks forward to going to school to see his teacher and his classmates. And she spent her money to have the modules photocopied — so she’d give out the next set of modules only when parents have paid for the previous ones.”

The costs of online schooling, indeed, initially dented the teachers’ own finances and presented an added burden to parents contending with lack of income or job loss.

Meanwhile, Internet providers made a profit from the heightened online lifestyle, with reports stating a six percent growth in revenues, mostly from the the use of mobile Internet.

DepEd has clarified that the order is “mandatory,” meaning all “enrolled students abide,” and “regardless of the Covid-19 alert level imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or the Department of Health in areas where schools are located.”

All public and private schools in the country are supposed to “transition to five days of face-to-face classes beginning 2 November.” Gradual is accepted. It’s time to face the future.

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