The COVID-19 created disruption to education systems. Its effect on child development was undesirable. Various studies said that losses were observed in motor and cognitive development, attitudes towards learning, and Internalizing behavior. Recent studies also suggest that the pandemic has a negative impact on school performance among children and youth.
Since last month, Education Secretary Leonor Briones has authorized all regional directors of the Department of Education (DepEd) to start the progressive expansion phase of the face-to-face classes for both public and private schools.
This pilot run of face-to-face classes was welcomed considering that the education of a significant number of students has been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The piloting of face-to-face classes in some schools gives hope that a return to some point of normalcy is approaching. We can attribute this development to the increase in the number of Filipinos getting vaccinated daily and their adherence to the health protocols imposed by our health authorities.
The main question would be, how prepared our schools and our students for the face-to-face classes?
In elementary and secondary levels, the DepEd needs to change the layout and ventilation of the classrooms and other parts of the schools, purchase supplies and equipment needed for the implementation of safety protocols and standards, and other needs.
The schools should also be compliant with the School Safety Assessment Tool (SSAT). It must also be located in areas under alert levels 1 and 2 based on the periodic risk assessment by the Department of Health (DOH). Among the requirements of the face-to-face classes is that students participating in this must have the written consent of their parents. Only vaccinated teachers may participate in the face-to-face classes and vaccinated learners shall be preferred.
Recently, some sectors urged the government to allot budget for the medical insurance of students and teachers in preparation for the face-to-face classes. The government has not yet acted on the proposal.
School reopening for face-to-face interfaces must be thoroughly planned to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and school staff especially in following physical distancing.
With the ongoing resumption of face-to-face classes, the hardships of both the children and their parents in coping with home-based education will soon be eased. Our hardworking teachers, who already have sacrificed enough to ensure our children get the quality education they deserve even during the pandemic, will also have some relief once they are able to step inside their classrooms once again. It’s only appropriate then that the precautions are taken to protect our children from possible infection, as we gradually return to face-to-face classes.