Tell it to SunStar: To return or not to return?

·2 min read

By Oscar Tan III, Grade 12 student

At this time a year ago, I wrote about the possibility of cancelling face-to-face classes for possibly a month. This was right before any one of us knew the extent of what was about to unfold. A year after, with the situation having vastly improved, I am looking at the opposite end of the spectrum: Should schools slowly reopen their classroom doors?

Just like last year, there are many points of view that must be considered. If students and teachers are to be asked, it would most likely be a resounding “YES.”

The plain stress that both parties experience in the online setting is unparalleled to that in the face-to-face setting. Internet instability continues to be our undefeated foe.

Additionally, the redundancy of being limited to the four walls of our bedrooms or living rooms may contribute to the development of anxiety for some, if not, many. Looking at the viewpoints of parents/guardians, some are still reluctant about the idea — and that is completely understandable. There is still a large number of active cases in the country — let alone in Cebu.

A major breakthrough, however, took place in the past week, as the rollout of vaccines for medical frontliners began. As the months progress, we expect more brands to arrive. That being said, the possibility of resuming face-to-face classes seems more and more likely.

Personally, a realistic timetable to resume would be at the start of the 2021-22 academic year, or around the third quarter of 2021. If the mass rollout goes on as planned, then it might be time for the government to give schools the green light.

As I mentioned last year, the most crucial point when making any kind of Covid-related decision would have to be the safety of senior citizens. Again, with more brands of vaccines set to arrive in our country — those of which are suitable for individuals aged 60 and above, as well as other vulnerable groups — this area of concern could be addressed within the coming months.

Now, if the government does give the go signal, then there will have to be some “new normal” reinforcements that schools must implement. For instance, guards and other security personnel could be deployed in key areas of the school (i.e. lobby, canteen, library) to ensure that social distancing is observed. The classroom setup could be similar to that of an exam hall. And if, God forbid, a Covid breakout occurs, then face-to-face classes could be temporarily cancelled for 14-28 days.

It’s about time schools considered reopening. A 2021-22 academic year start would be the best possible outcome. However, this must be carefully planned and not rushed. At the end of the day, it will all depend on the vaccine rollout to determine the fate of our classes.