Wenceslao: Skipping school

Bong O. Wenceslao

IT NOW looks like making our decision on whether to allow our two sons to go back to school or not amid the Covid 19 pandemic scare would be easier for the older one rather than for the younger one. That is if the Department of Education (DepEd) insists on reopening classes this school year.

The older one has graduated from senior high school and could skip one year of college with lesser problems. The younger one is still in junior high and is in science school, which follows the DepEd diktat. If DepEd forces that school to reopen classes, that could mean my younger son will have to relinquish his right to continue going to that school if we decide to have him skip a year of his education.

I chatted recently with a former colleague who is also a college professor and he said that he is on a hunt for schools that would offer good curriculum online. Most of the good schools are, of course, private institutions and he said these schools may yet impose astronomical tuition. Considering that most parents are suffering from the lockdown the government imposed, paying high tuition would add to that suffering. Can the Commission on Higher Education act on this and regulate tuition for online education?

I still have to hear of petitions by parents for the speedy reopening of classes, especially MIthose done face-to-face. I think this is because Gov. Gwen Garcia is correct when she noted that education could wait. Indeed, what satisfaction would parents have if their children get the coronavirus in the pursuit of education.

DepEd may claim it has plans but all those plans will fly once reality sets in. The public school system, considering its failings, is highly vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus. I know that because my sons were educated in a private school and crossed over to a science school, a private institution.

When my younger son started attending classes in the science school, the difference was obvious. The private school, in anticipation of the introduction of the K-12 curriculum, built a new structure that became the sole home for elementary students. It meant that the school had by then enough classrooms to accommodate the increase in enrollees. In the science school where my son transferred, the classrooms were bursting with students. Imagine how easily the coronavirus could spread in such a situation.

DepEd officials may say they have a plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the campuses but how many times have they said something and ended up failing? I could just imagine what will happen if physical distancing is strictly imposed in public schools with their already cramped classrooms. I see how the physical distancing protocol can never be implemented by school officials.

I still have to see how DepEd will implement the online aspect of its plans. I am willing to have my children try it as part of the coming new normal. After all, my children are already familiar with the new technology. But I don’t know how prepared the teachers would be for that. Especially in the public school system.