Class Opening 2020: A harbinger for the ‘new normal’

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Despite protestations from several sectors to scrap this school year altogether, the Department of Education went full steam ahead with the October 5 opening of classes nationwide. To some, it was a folly, even a dangerous one, but the return of over 22 million learners to their classes is no small feat, taken into consideration the planning, logistics and resources, as well as the wherewithal to push through something amid mounting opposition.

According to Education Secretary Leonor Briones, the class opening was a success despite the hurdles and hiccup encountered along the way. Indeed, these challenges have been expected as this was not anything like the previous class openings. There is a pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy and posing serious health ramifications on everyone, especially schoolchildren. 

So why insist on having the classes at all, critics would say. Surely a year of lost learning opportunity outweighs the potential impact of the contagion on families. And this is where the critics missed the whole point.

In the beginning, DepED has made it clear that in-person or face-to-face learning methods would be scrapped in favor of blended schemes that will utilize the internet, radio and television, and even short messaging service, among other technologies.

Secondly, and most significantly, the opening of classes fits into the broader strategy of the government to prepare Filipinos for the eventual reopening of the economy and other aspects of our social and economic life that have been disrupted by COVID-19. In short, the symbolism that the class reopening foretells how well we would manage the gradual return to normalcy. Come to think of it: if we can’t open our schools in a cautious, safe, and secure manner, how are we going to undertake the reopening of the other facets of our disrupted national life.

In a way, Sec. Briones was right to say that the class opening was a victory against COVID-19. We’re not winning per se as in we are eradicating the disease because to be plainly honest, no one else in the world has yet produced a cure or a vaccine. Rather, we are winning because we do not let it dominate our lives enough to make us cower indefinitely inside our homes. We are winning because we are constantly finding ways to get around the virus through innovations and technologies, through sheer hard work, cooperation, and through the Bayanihan spirit and our sense of community.

As Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte astutely and correctly pointed out, the virus is here to stay and we need to live with it. This means consistently incorporating the minimum health standards into our daily lives, in a way that it becomes a culture or a lifestyle; in a way that wearing masks and social distancing would become our second nature.

If we do that, we will not only prevent the virus from spreading, but it also means we’re keeping all other diseases at bay.

Notwithstanding some theatrics we’ve seen regarding teachers swimming seemingly impossible distances or getting signals by on the rooftop of their classrooms, DepEd has truly led the way in helping us get started to the new normal, making us see the possibilities and enabling us to believe that we can live in normalcy again if we really want to.

Be informed
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