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Face-to-face classes or not yet?



STUDENTS yearn for the ultimate school experience in face-to-face classes. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PEXELS/GEORGE PAK

The new school year begins on 13 September 2021 and ends on 24 June 2022.

A total of 209 school days, including Saturdays and the five-day midyear break, must have weighed on students’ minds since government through the Department of Education still does not allow face-to-face classes.

Daily Tribune asked some college students: Do you want to go back to physical classes or, amid the ongoing pandemic, not yet?

‘THE interaction in traditional classes is different from the type of interaction we are currently experiencing,’ — Nathaniel Bautista. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CONTRIBUTORS FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

Their response:

No longer working for me
Yes, I would like to go back to physical classes already. Personally, online learning is no longer working for me. Although I have the necessary gadgets that I can use for distance learning, we have to admit that not everyone has the same opportunity as I do, and not all households are conducive to learning. In-person learning facilitates participative learning, social interaction, real-time feedback and it allows students to understand the subject better compared to online learning.

According to UNICEF, the longer students are out of the classroom, the less likely they are to return — and the higher the risk of child labor, child marriage, early pregnancy, violence and abuse. I believe that distance learning is discriminatory, incompatible and has put many parents and youth at a disadvantage, especially among those who live in urban poor communities. I acknowledge that we are still in a pandemic, that’s why we demand for subsidy and safe school reopening. — Jeslyn J. Ato, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP)

Not for everyone
I would like to go back to a
face-to-face setup right now because online classes are not for everyone. And compared to physical learning, online setup is very limited especially for courses that need to have physical practices.

But I also want to go back to school in a safe manner. Because the number of Covid-19 patients are rising right now. — John Patrick Battad, PUP

A lot of students were
left behind
I experienced a year in face-to-face class and a year in online learning, I can say that the face-to-face classroom set-up is more efficient than talking in front of the screen. The interaction in traditional classes is different from the type of interaction we are currently experiencing.

I want to go back to physical classes. I believe that through a scientific and researched-based action from the government, it is not impossible to reopen the schools. A year of remote learning is already wasted because a lot of students were left behind.

Another factor that affects my point of view is the fact that my program is a skill-based one where we have to improve specific skills in field and production work. It is hard for us to produce quality output through platforms that weren’t introduced to us.

Lastly, I believe that not every household is a conducive space to do academic stuff and not all students are privileged enough to buy gadgets and have a stable internet connection. These things made me realize that the leaders of the country care for the economy more than the situation of its future leaders. — Nathaniel A. Bautista, PUP
Blessing in disguise
I am a working student. In the morning up until the afternoon, I do school and internship works and, in the evening, I work as a consultant for an international dental insurance company. I need to work since my parents cannot, now that we are experiencing a pandemic.

I barely get enough sleep during the weekdays, but I still manage to steal some sleep since our internship is done online anyway. If it were face-to-face, I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep at all.

So I don’t want to go back to physical classes yet. I understand the importance of having a face-to-face class: students will really be able to focus on their studies, they won’t need to worry about gadgets to utilize or an internet connection to use.

But for some students like me who are also working, online classes are kind of a blessing in disguise because we get to somehow manage our time doing two difficult things at a time.

Also, our fight with the pandemic isn’t over yet. I wouldn’t want to take the risk of catching the virus and spreading it to my loved ones. — Stephanie Benito, PUP

Unproductive and taxing
on mental health
I want to go back to physical classes, very much. It is such a shame that two years of our supposed fruitful university life have been stolen from us because of the pandemic, but there is really nothing we can do because the situation is inevitable. However, things could have been better if we had a competent and efficient government. The Philippines is one of only two remaining countries that has yet to reopen schools, and that makes me so mad.

Nothing is better than face-to-face learning, especially for primary and secondary students where children are at an age be honed and gain experiences. Students need actual experiences, human connection, and to make the most out of their academic life. Remote learning is unproductive and taxing for the mental health, and we cannot continue to sacrifice quality education because our supposed leaders failed to do their jobs. We need safe reopening of schools. — Louisse Anne S. Castillo, PUP

Yearning for the physical world
To answer that directly
— yes. I miss everything about the
face-to-face setup, the faces, the tight hugs, the presence of just being inside of an actual classroom. I cannot deny that this setup is only burning us students out; we study alone, break down alone and basically everything that we were doing before with classmates, friends and acquaintances, we now do them now alone.

“Online” presence is not something that you really feel because there’s actually a lot of barriers in it given that we are virtually connected. Some might see us students as “wala namang ibang ginagawa, umuuupo na lang, makikinig sa online class”

— but in reality, it’s difficult, and heavy, and lonely. We miss the old setup and we yearn for a physical world.

— Rhonald Karl Fernandez, PUP

(To be continued)