Wenceslao: Face-to-face classes

Bong O. Wenceslao
·3 min read

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has loosened up on his previous insistence that he would only allow the holding of face-to-face classes once students have already been inoculated to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. He did not object to the recent initiative by the Education department to select schools where the holding of face-to-face classes will be resumed next school year.

The Education department’s move coincides with the lifting of lockdowns in some regions where Covid-19 is no longer a problem and the slow easing back to normalcy of the country. Education in the country during the pandemic is either online or done using learning modules. Classrooms are being deserted as students stay home.

Frankly, I once was wary about distance learning but is now leaning towards it because I feel my sons are safer at home. That is why until I could assure the safety of my sons going to and from the school and while staying in school, I am not sure if I would allow them to attend face-to-face classes. I’d rather have them let go of the school year altogether.

The Education department, though, will not be deciding on its own where the resumption of face-to-face classes will be pilot-tested. The local government unit where the school is located will be given a say and, most probably, local health authorities. The assessment of the health status of a place is important in the decision-making process. That can’t be done by the Education department alone.

Will, say, Mayor Edgardo Labella give the go-signal for Cebu City? Will Gov. Gwen Garcia give the go-signal for Cebu province? And how will the other highly urbanized cities and the municipalities and component cities in the province react to it? And most importantly, how would the parents take it? Would they allow their children to go back to school?

I don’t really think that with the number of students per school and the current school setup, teachers would be able to implement the minimum health protocols required for face-to-face classes. The wearing of masks, social distancing and frequent washing of the hands can’t be implemented by teachers already focused on imparting the needed lessons for the day to students. That would be an added burden to already burdened teachers.

Most likely, the size of classes per teacher will have to be reduced. In my younger son’s classroom before the pandemic, students were so cramped they could not move without hitting another student. Teachers could not maintain enough distance from the students. How could they maintain social distancing?

For me, I would rather wait until my sons are inoculated before I would allow them to attend face-to-face classes. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. How could our children savor the idea of learning if they get ill in the process? If even one child gets ill because we forced the resumption of face-to-face classes without inoculation, would the effort be worth the bother? That’s a good question the Education department needs to answer.