Lately, parents have been asking two things: (1) Should I enroll my child in school during this pandemic? and (2) Will my child fall behind in school because of the pandemic?
While some are still contemplating on having their children take a gap year for this school cycle or until a vaccine has been developed, others have already decided not to enroll their kids to school given that it will be conducted remotely or fully online.
Issues with internet connectivity, lack of gadgets, and logistics at home especially with parents going back to work or working from home as well, are just some of the reasons why most are reluctant with this new education set-up.
Additionally, there are also those families too who simply cannot afford the cost of education at this moment since this pandemic has taken a heavy toll on employment and business, thus affecting every household’s financial standing.
While I am not in a position to answer the first question since it is clearly within the bounds of parental discretion, allow me to at least put everything in perspective. Physical school will probably be closed for the rest of the year and for how long, we will never really know.
In the off chance that it will eventually open its door during the latter part of 2020 or early part of 2021, children won’t be going back to the same crowded classrooms since physical distancing measures will still have to be strictly reinforced.
Even when the Covid situation settles down a bit, it will still take some time before school can fully revert back to its old practice of face-to-face learning. Hybrid or blended learning where students go to school some days and learn from home on other days is just one of the options schools are looking into as part of their contingency plan for the gradual school reopening.
“…this pandemic has forced educators like me to admit that reinventing teaching and learning by transferring the physical classroom in an online environment is indeed inevitable given the situation we are facing.”
Like everyone else, I used to think that there is only one effective way or rather place to deliver education and that is, within the four walls of school. But then, this pandemic has forced educators like me to admit that reinventing teaching and learning by transferring the physical classroom in an online environment is indeed inevitable given the situation we are facing.
Despite the clamor to postpone or suspend school until a safe vaccine has been developed, DepEd is pushing through with the class opening, albeit remotely, in the public school this August with the private schools following suit.
This is because they recognize that education is a right that must be provided to every child even during crisis or emergency situations (Sinclair, 2010). Indeed, schools should remain closed during pandemics but access to education must continue.
In fact, the groundwork for education in emergencies has been laid down as early as 2000 with different groups led by UNESCO and SEAMEO-INNOTECH rallying countries together to collectively formulate a plan of action and to help strengthen educational systems worldwide so they become responsive to children’s educational needs even during critical times.
“Indeed, schools should remain closed during pandemics but access to education must continue.”
Education in emergencies or resilient education is deemed important because it provides a sense of normalcy for children especially during periods of uncertainty. It has been found to “restore hope and support children’s psychological healing from traumatic or difficult experiences through structured social activities in a safe place” (Sinclair, 2000).
School is a safe place for children and in the absence of the physical classroom, online classrooms will be the safe space where they can have the sense of community/belongingness that they need for their personal growth.
It is the alternative venue where they can learn yet at the same time socialize and create human connections outside their family that is so important for their socio-emotional well-being especially during pandemics such as this.
Forget about grades or level advancement, education in emergencies focuses primarily on equipping children with the essential learnings, life skills, and values for them to be able to remain optimistic about the future.
As a way of implementation, DepEd recently released the list of the Most Essential Learning Competencies that would guide schools and educators in terms of curriculum planning to ensure that only important lessons will be taught this school year.
Since not everyone has the capacity and resources to learn online, DepEd also offered various learning delivery options such as blended learning, distance learning, and homeschooling so parents can pick the learning mode suitable to their children given their situation.
Printed learning materials will also be made available for distribution for those learning offline while online learning platforms and television/radio based instruction are being readied for those who would like to learn through these media.
Private schools, on their end, have also been carefully crafting and designing their distance or remote learning programs as well, with school administrators, teachers, and staff working tirelessly to accommodate and assist families in their remote learning concerns.
“…we are indeed right to be anxious at this time given that we are dealing with a stealthy virus and are faced with limited or worse, lack of resources.”
In PAREF Woodrose School where I teach, we have come together as a school and we have been engaging our parents, students, and community/educational partners in dialogues. We have been actively working with them to further improve and refine the robust remote learning system we have created so it will be reflective of the thrust and culture of our school.
With all the confusion surrounding remote/distance learning due to the mixed signals coming from the different sectors in the government, it is understandable that there will be some apprehensions. We are indeed right to be anxious at this time given that we are dealing with a stealthy virus and are faced with limited or worse, lack of resources.
But then, let me just say, we are also right to be optimistic since we have hardworking, dedicated, and competent public and private school teachers who have bravely risen up to the challenge of providing continuous education during this critical time in the safest, most feasible, and efficient way possible.
“…we are also right to be optimistic since we have hardworking, dedicated, and competent public and private school teachers who have bravely risen up to the challenge of providing continuous education during this critical time.”
The national government’s response is slow in coming I know, but some local government units and not to mention the Office of the Vice President are making up for the seeming lack of inaction by doing their best to source out funds and mobilize people in order to support the distance learning needs of our students.
Ultimately, should you decide to enroll your kids in school during this pandemic, you must actively collaborate with your school. Home-school collaboration is the only way to go about this. The teachers and school administrators will be more than willing to help and assist you and your children in your remote learning concerns.
On the other hand, should you opt not to enroll your kids in school during this pandemic for completely valid reasons, you just have to double your efforts as parents and fully embrace your role as primary educators of your children.
Connect and be part of the growing community of parents who have taken teaching their children to heart during this pandemic. They are a lot and they are more than willing to support others as well.
Now, on the question of whether your child will fall behind in school or in skills during this pandemic, my simple answer is, only if you will allow it. With various learning options and vast learning resources readily available online and offline for everyone, education during this pandemic need not take a backseat.
We may all have differing opinions regarding access and delivery of education at this time but at the end of the day, we all want the same thing for our children and that is, for them to not just survive but continue to thrive during this pandemic.